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International Journal of Hepatology
Volume 2012, Article ID 850836, 6 pages
Review Article

Role of NKT Cells in the Pathogenesis of NAFLD

1The Third Department of Internal Medicine, Toyama University Hospital, Toyama, Toyama 930-0194, Japan
2Gastroenterology Unit, Takaoka City Hospital, Takaoka, Toyama 933-8550, Japan

Received 9 November 2011; Revised 12 January 2012; Accepted 23 January 2012

Academic Editor: Manuela Neuman

Copyright © 2012 Kazuto Tajiri and Yukihiro Shimizu. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most frequent chronic liver disease and shows various inflammatory changes in the liver. Among those inflammatory cells, natural killer T (NKT) cells are found to have a critical role during the disease progression. NKT cells may have a protective role at the early stage with simple steatosis through modification of insulin resistance, whereas they act as a progression factor at the advanced stage with fibrosis. Those processes are thought to depend on interaction between NKT cells and CD1d molecule in the liver.