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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 2012, Article ID 478429, 8 pages
Review Article

Modulatory Function of Invariant Natural Killer T Cells in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei 114, Taiwan
2Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, Tri-Service General Hospital, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei 114, Taiwan
3Division of Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Tri-Service General Hospital, Taipei 114, Taiwan
4Department of Internal Medicine, Tri-Service General Hospital, Taipei 114, Taiwan

Received 2 January 2012; Accepted 10 April 2012

Academic Editor: Harris Perlman

Copyright © 2012 Yi-Ping Chuang et al. 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.


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disease with complex immunological and clinical manifestations. Multiple organ failure in SLE can be caused by immune dysfunction and deposition of autoantibodies. Studies of SLE-susceptible loci and the cellular and humoral immune responses reveal variable aberrations associated with this systemic disease. Invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells are a unique subset of lymphocytes that control peripheral tolerance. Mounting evidence showing reductions in the proportion and activity of iNKT cells in SLE patients suggests the suppressive role of iNKT cells. Studies using murine lupus models demonstrate that iNKT cells participate in SLE progression by sensing apoptotic cells, regulating immunoglobulin production, and altering the cytokine profile upon activation. However, the dichotomy of iNKT cell actions in murine models implies complicated interactions within the body's milieu. Therefore, application of potential therapy for SLE using glycolipids to regulate iNKT cells should be undertaken cautiously.