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The preventive role of type 2 NKT cells in the development of type 1 diabetes

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In the last two decades, natural killer T (NKT) cells have emerged as an important factor in preventing type 1 diabetes (T1D) when investigated in the experimental non‐obese diabetic (NOD) mouse model. So far, investigations have largely focused on type 1 NKT cells with invariant T‐cell receptors, whereas the role of type 2 NKT cells with diverse T‐cell receptors is less well understood. However, there have been several findings which indicate that in fact type 2 NKT cells may regulate the progression of type 1 diabetes in NOD mice, including a fraction of these cells which recognize β‐cell‐enriched sulfatide. Therefore, the focus for this review is to present the current evidence of the effect of type 2 NKT cells on the development of T1D. In general, there is still uncertainty surrounding the mechanism of activation and function of NKT cells. Here, we present two models of the effector mechanisms, respectively, Th1/Th2 polarization and the induction of tolerogenic dendritic cells (DC). In conclusion, this review points to the importance of immunoregulation by type 2 NKT cells in preventing the development of T1D and highlights the induction of tolerogenic DC as a likely mechanism. The possible therapeutic role of type 1 and type 2 NKT cells are evaluated and future experiments concerning type 2 NKT cells and T1D are proposed.
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Keywords: Natural killer T cell; beta cell; diabetes; prevention; sulfatide

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2014

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