In vivo treatment of mice with the natural killer T (NKT) cell ligand, α-galactosylceramide (αGalCer), ameliorates autoimmune diabetes and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) by shifting pathogenic Th1-type immune responses to nonpathogenic Th2-type responses. In the current study, in vivo activation of NKT cells in adult NZB/W mice by multiple injections of αGalCer induced an abnormal Th1-type immune response as compared with the Th2-type response observed in nonautoimmune C57BL/6 mice. This resulted in decreased serum levels of IgE, increased levels of IgG2a and IgG2a anti–double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) Ab’s, and exacerbated lupus. Conversely, treatment of NZB/W mice with blocking anti-CD1d mAb augmented Th2-type responses, increased serum levels of IgE, decreased levels of IgG2a and IgG2a anti-dsDNA Ab’s, and ameliorated lupus. While total CD4+ T cells markedly augmented in vitro IgM anti-dsDNA Ab secretion by splenic B cells, the non–CD1d-reactive (CD1d-αGalCer tetramer-negative) CD4+ T cells (accounting for 95% of all CD4+ T cells) failed to augment Ab secretion. The CD1d-reactive tetramer-positive CD4+ T cells augmented anti-dsDNA Ab secretion about tenfold. In conclusion, activation of NKT cells augments Th1-type immune responses and autoantibody secretion that contribute to lupus development in adult NZB/W mice, and anti-CD1d mAb might be useful for treating lupus.
Defu Zeng, Yinping Liu, Stephane Sidobre, Mitchell Kronenberg, Samuel Strober