Protection from type 1 diabetes by invariant NK T cells requires the activity of CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells

Dalam Ly, Qing-Sheng Mi, Shabbir Hussain, Terry L Delovitch
Journal of Immunology 2006 September 15, 177 (6): 3695-704
Invariant NK T (iNKT) cells regulate immune responses, express NK cell markers and an invariant TCR, and recognize lipid Ags in a CD1d-restricted manner. Previously, we reported that activation of iNKT cells by alpha-galactosylceramide (alpha-GalCer) protects against type 1 diabetes (T1D) in NOD mice via an IL-4-dependent mechanism. To further investigate how iNKT cells protect from T1D, we analyzed whether iNKT cells require the presence of another subset(s) of regulatory T cells (Treg), such as CD4+ CD25+ Treg, for this protection. We found that CD4+ CD25+ T cells from NOD.CD1d(-/-) mice deficient in iNKT cell function similarly in vitro to CD4+ CD25+ T cells from wild-type NOD mice and suppress the proliferation of NOD T responder cells upon alpha-GalCer stimulation. Cotransfer of NOD diabetogenic T cells with CD4+ CD25+ Tregs from NOD mice pretreated with alpha-GalCer demonstrated that activated iNKT cells do not influence the ability of T(regs) to inhibit the transfer of T1D. In contrast, protection from T1D mediated by transfer of activated iNKT cells requires the activity of CD4+ CD25+ T cells, because splenocytes pretreated with alpha-GalCer and then inactivated by anti-CD25 of CD25+ cells did not protect from T1D. Similarly, mice inactivated of CD4+ CD25+ T cells before alpha-GalCer treatment were also not protected from T1D. Our data suggest that CD4+ CD25+ T cells retain their function during iNKT cell activation, and that the activity of CD4+ CD25+ Tregs is required for iNKT cells to transfer protection from T1D.

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