Antigen-dependent versus-independent activation of invariant NKT cells during infection

Keli L. Holzapfel, Aaron J. Tyznik, Mitchell Kronenberg, Kristin A. Hogquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


CD1d-reactive invariant NKT cells (iNKT) play a vital role in determining the characteristics of immune responses to infectious agents. Previous reports suggest that iNKT cell activation during infection can be: 1) solely driven by cytokines from innate immune cells, 2) require microbial Ag, or 3) require self-Ag. In this study, we examined the role of Ag receptor stimulation in iNKT cells during several bacterial and viral infections. To test for Ag receptor signaling, Nur77gfp BAC transgenic mice, which upregulate GFP in response to Ag receptor but not inflammatory signals, were analyzed. iNKT cells in the reporter mice infected with mouse CMV produced IFN-γ but did not upregulate GFP, consistent with their reported CD1d-independent activation. However, two bacteria known to produce lipid Ags for iNKT cells induced GFP expression and cytokine production. In contrast, although Salmonella typhimurium was proposed to induce the presentation of a self-lipid, iNKT cells produced IFN-γ but did not upregulate GFP postinfection in vivo. Even in CD1d-deficient hosts, iNKT cells were still able to produce IFN-γ after S. typhimurium infection. Furthermore, although it has been proposed that endogenous lipid presentation is a result of TLR stimulation of APCs, injection of different TLR agonists led to iNKT cell IFN-γ but not increased GFP expression. These data indicate that robust iNKT cell responses to bacteria, as well as viruses, can be obtained in the absence of antigenic stimulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5490-5498
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2014


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