Antitumor Responses of Invariant Natural Killer T Cells

Jennie B. Altman, Adriana D. Benavides, Rupali Das, Hamid Bassiri

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Natural killer T (NKT) cells are innate-like lymphocytes that were first described in the late 1980s. Since their initial description, numerous studies have collectively shed light on their development and effector function. These studies have highlighted the unique requirements for the activation of these lymphocytes and the functional responses that distinguish these cells from other effector lymphocyte populations such as conventional T cells and NK cells. This body of literature suggests that NKT cells play diverse nonredundant roles in a number of disease processes, including the initiation and propagation of airway hyperreactivity, protection against a variety of pathogens, development of autoimmunity, and mediation of allograft responses. In this review, however, we focus on the role of a specific lineage of NKT cells in antitumor immunity. Specifically, we describe the development of invariant NKT (iNKT) cells and the factors that are critical for their acquisition of effector function. Next, we delineate the mechanisms by which iNKT cells influence and modulate the activity of other immune cells to directly or indirectly affect tumor growth. Finally, we review the successes and failures of clinical trials employing iNKT cell-based immunotherapies and explore the future prospects for the use of such strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number652875
JournalJournal of Immunology Research
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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