Background & Aims: NK1.1+ TCRαβint CD1-restricted T (NKT) cells are a unique subset of T lymphocytes that are believed to have an immunoregulatory role in a wide range of diseases. Most mouse NKT cells express a T-cell receptor that contains an invariant Vα14Jα18 chain and recognizes antigenic glycolipids presented in association with major histocompatibility complex class Ib (CD1d) molecules. These invariant NKT (iNKT) cells have been implicated in cholestatic liver injury. Methods: We examined the role of iNKT cells in liver injury associated with biliary obstruction in mice with ligations of the common bile duct. Results: The number of activated iNKT cells increased markedly in the livers of mice following bile duct ligation. Plasma alanine aminotransferase levels, an indicator of liver injury, were significantly higher in iNKT cell-deficient (Jα18-/-) mice compared with wild-type mice following bile duct ligation. Photo image analysis of histologic sections confirmed that more damage was present in the livers of Jα18-/- mice; liver damage correlated with increases in keratinocyte-derived chemokine (KC) and macrophage inflammatory protein-2 (MIP-2) production as well as neutrophil sequestration. Liver injury was significantly reduced in Jα18-/- mice treated with anti-KC and anti-MIP-2 or rendered neutrophil deficient before bile duct ligation. Similarly, Jα18-/- mice that were injected with iNKT cells before bile duct ligation exhibited significant decreases in neutrophil accumulation and liver damage. Conclusions: These data document the role of iNKT cells in suppressing the neutrophil proinflammatory response and neutrophil-dependent cholestatic liver damage.
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