Nilsson J, Hörnberg M, Schmidt-Christensen A, Linde K, Nilsson M, Carlus M, Erttmann SF, Mayans S, Holmberg D. NKT cells promote both type 1 and type 2 inflammatory responses in a mouse model of liver fibrosis.
Sci Rep. 2020 Dec 11;10(1):21778
Sterile liver inflammation and fibrosis are associated with many liver disorders of different etiologies. Both type 1 and type 2 inflammatory responses have been reported to contribute to liver pathology. However, the mechanisms controlling the balance between these responses are largely unknown. Natural killer T (NKT) cells can be activated to rapidly secrete cytokines and chemokines associated with both type 1 and type 2 inflammatory responses. As these proteins have been reported to accumulate in different types of sterile liver inflammation, we hypothesized that these cells may play a role in this pathological process. We have found that a transgenic NKT (tgNKT) cell population produced in the immunodeficient 2,4αβNOD.Rag2-/- mice, but not in 2,4αβNOD.Rag2+/-control mice, promoted a type 1 inflammatory response with engagement of the NOD-, LRR- and pyrin domain-containing protein-3 (NLRP3) inflammasome. The induction of the type 1 inflammatory response was followed by an altered cytokine profile of the tgNKT cell population with a biased production of anti-inflammatory/profibrotic cytokines and development of liver fibrosis. These findings illustrate how the plasticity of NKT cells modulates the inflammatory response, suggesting a key role for the NKT cell population in the control of sterile liver inflammation.