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Activation of iNKT cells by a distinct constituent of the endogenous glucosylceramide fraction

Brennan, Patrick J., Tatituri, Raju V. V., Heiss, Christian, Watts, Gerald F. M., Hsu, Fong-Fu, Veerapen, Natacha, Cox, Liam R., Azadi, Parastoo, Besra, Gurdyal S., Brenner, Michael B.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2014 v.111 no.37 pp. 13433-13438
T-lymphocytes, antigens, autoimmune diseases, diet, endogenous sources, immune response, lipids, mammals, neoplasms, peptides, tissues
Significance Invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells are a specialized subset of T cells that recognizes lipids, rather than peptides, as antigens. Recognition of both endogenous and exogenous lipids by iNKT cells contributes to immune responses during infection, cancer, autoimmune disease, and allergic disease. The endogenous lipids recognized by iNKT cells in most contexts, however, remain unclear. In this report, we characterize the lipid antigen activity found in mammalian milk and tissues. Our data suggest that activity is related to a minor component of the glucosylceramide fraction. Whether contributed from endogenous sources or from the diet, this rare, yet potent lipid activity may play an important role in driving immune responses.