Anti-tumor effects of NKT cells
Function as effectors of direct attack on tumor cells
NKT cells share the properties of NK cells, which involved in innate immune responses, and have function as effectors of direct killing tumor cells. However, as the number of NKT cells in the blood is very small, their direct cytotoxic activity is limited.
Activation of immune system by adjuvant effect
NKT cells produce large amount of the cytokines including interferon-γ (IFN-γ), resulting in the activation of immune cells including both NK cells, which are part of the innate immune system and CD8T cells (killer T cells), which are part of the acquired immune system via the adjuvant activities. This adjuvant activity also induces the long-term immune memory responses.
Other effects of NKT cells
NKT cells are known to be involved in immune system in other ways without activating immune system by production of IFN-γ. NKT cells promote to produce antibody from B-cells, and induce allergic inflammation by production of IL-4, induction of anti-allergic response by production of IL-17, and suppression of onset of autoimmune disease by production of IL-10.