The functions of type I and Type II Natural Killer T cells in inflammatory bowel diseases

Chia Min Liao*, Michael I. Zimmer, Chyung Ru Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


CD1d-restricted natural killer T (NKT) cells are a distinct subset of T cells that rapidly produce an array of cytokines on activation and play a critical role in regulating various immune responses. NKT cells are classified into 2 groups based on differences in T-cell receptor usage. Type I NKT cells have an invariant T-cell receptor α-chain and are readily detectable by α-galactosylceramide (α-GalCer)-loaded CD1d tetramers. Type II NKT cells have a more diverse T-cell receptor repertoire and cannot be directly identified. Both types of NKT cells and multiple CD1d-expressing cell types are present in the intestine, and their interactions are likely to be modulated by pathogenic and commensal microbes, which in turn contribute to the intestinal immune responses in health and disease. Indeed, in several animal models of inflammatory bowel disease, type I NKT cells have been shown to make both protective and pathogenic contributions to disease. In contrast, in patients with ulcerative colitis, and a mouse model in which both CD1d expression and the frequency of type II NKT cells are increased, type II NKT cells seem to promote intestinal inflammation. In this review, we summarize the present knowledge on the antigen recognition, activation, and function of NKT cells with a particular focus on their role in inflammatory bowel disease and discuss factors that may influence the functional outcome of NKT cell responses in intestinal inflammation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1330-1338
Number of pages9
JournalInflammatory bowel diseases
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 2013


  • CD1d
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • NKT Cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Gastroenterology


Dive into the research topics of 'The functions of type I and Type II Natural Killer T cells in inflammatory bowel diseases'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this