Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
Journal of Immunology Research
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 2395645, 9 pages
Review Article

Effects of Invariant NKT Cells on Parasite Infections and Hygiene Hypothesis

1Key Laboratory of National Health and Family Planning Commission on Parasitic Disease Control and Prevention, Jiangsu Provincial Key Laboratory on Parasite and Vector Control, Jiangsu Institute of Parasitic Diseases, Wuxi, Jiangsu 214064, China
2Autoimmunity and Tolerance Laboratory, Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA

Received 22 May 2016; Accepted 20 June 2016

Academic Editor: Anil Shanker

Copyright © 2016 Jun-Qi Yang 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.


Invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells are unique subset of innate-like T cells recognizing glycolipids. iNKT cells can rapidly produce copious amounts of cytokines upon antigen stimulation and exert potent immunomodulatory activities for a wide variety of immune responses and diseases. We have revealed the regulatory effect of iNKT cells on autoimmunity with a serial of publications. On the other hand, the role of iNKT cells in parasitic infections, especially in recently attractive topic “hygiene hypothesis,” has not been clearly defined yet. Bacterial and parasitic cell wall is a cellular structure highly enriched in a variety of glycolipids and lipoproteins, some of which may serve as natural ligands of iNKT cells. In this review, we mainly summarized the recent findings on the roles and underlying mechanisms of iNKT cells in parasite infections and their cross-talk with Th1, Th2, Th17, Treg, and innate lymphoid cells. In most cases, iNKT cells exert regulatory or direct cytotoxic roles to protect hosts against parasite infections. We put particular emphasis as well on the identification of the natural ligands from parasites and the involvement of iNKT cells in the hygiene hypothesis.