NKT cell activation by local α-galactosylceramide administration decreases susceptibility to HSV-2 infection

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NKT cells are a subgroup of T cells, which express a restricted TCR repertoire and are critical for the innate immune responses to viral infections. Activation of NKT cells depends on the major histocompatibility complex-related molecule CD1d, which presents bioactive lipids to NKT cells. The marine sponge derived lipid αGalCer has recently been demonstrated as a specific agonist for activation of human and murine NKT cells. In the present study we investigated the applicability of αGalCer pre-treatment for immune protection against intra-vaginal HSV-2 infection. We found that C57BL/6 WT mice that received local pre-treatment with αGalCer prior to intra-vaginal HSV-2 infection had a lower mean disease score, mortality and viral load in the vagina following infection, compared to mice that did not receive αGalCer pre-treatment. Further, we found increased numbers of CD45 and NK1.1 positive cells in vaginal tissue and elevated levels of IFN-γ in the vaginal tissue and in vaginal fluids 24h after αGalCer pre-treatment. Collectively our data demonstrate a protective effect of αGalCer induced activation of NKT cells in the innate immune protection against viral infection.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2015

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