Natural killer T cells

What are NKT cells?

Natural killer T cells (NKT cells) are T cells that share properties of T cells (express αβ TCR) and NK cells (express CD16, 56, 161, and granzyme production) but are different from CTL and NK cells. They constitute 0.1% of all peripheral blood T cells. Most NKT cells are restricted to recognizing self and foreign lipids and glycolipids presented by CD1d molecules on target cells. Upon activation, NKT cells make IFN-γ, IL-4, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, and other cytokines (IL-2, TNFα). They are important in defense against mycobacterial infections.


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