Science and Mathematics Faculty Publications

A CD1d-Dependent Antagonist Inhibits the Activation of Invariant NKT Cells and Prevents Development of Allergen-Induced Airway Hyperreactivity

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The Journal of Immunology





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The prevalence of asthma continues to increase in westernized countries, and optimal treatment remains a significant therapeutic challenge. Recently, CD1d-restricted invariant NKT (iNKT) cells were found to play a critical role in the induction of airway hyperreactivity (AHR) in animal models and are associated with asthma in humans. To test whether iNKT cell-targeted therapy could be used to treat allergen-induced airway disease, mice were sensitized with OVA and treated with di-palmitoyl-phosphatidyl-ethanolamine polyethylene glycol (DPPE-PEG), a CD1d-binding lipid antagonist. A single dose of DPPE-PEG prevented the development of AHR and pulmonary infiltration of lymphocytes upon OVA challenge, but had no effect on the development of OVA-specific Th2 responses. In addition, DPPE-PEG completely prevented the development of AHR after administration of α-galactosylceramide (α-GalCer) intranasally. Furthermore, we demonstrate that DPPE-PEG acts as antagonist to α-GalCer and competes with α-GalCer for binding to CD1d. Finally, we show that DPPE-PEG completely inhibits the α-GalCer–induced phosphorylation of ERK tyrosine kinase in iNKT cells, suggesting that DPPE-PEG specifically blocks TCR signaling and thus activation of iNKT cells. Because iNKT cells play a critical role in the development of AHR, the inhibition of iNKT activation by DPPE-PEG suggests a novel approach to treat iNKT cell-mediated diseases such as asthma.