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utoimmune disease, cancer immunotherapy, cytokine production, Cytomegalovirus, cytotoxic T lymphocyte, dendritic cell, natural killer cell, vaccination


Natural killer T (NKT) cells are distinct glycolipid reactive innate lymphocytes that are implicated in the resistance to pathogens and tumors. Earlier attempts to mobilize NKT cells, specifically, in vivo in humans met with limited success. Here, we evaluated intravenous injection of monocyte-derived mature DCs that were loaded with a synthetic NKT cell ligand, α-galactosyl-ceramide (α-GalCer; KRN-7000) in five patients who had advanced cancer. Injection of α-GalCer-pulsed, but not unpulsed, dendritic cells (DCs) led to >100-fold expansion of several subsets of NKT cells in all patients; these could be detected for up to 6 mo after vaccination. NKT activation was associated with an increase in serum levels of interleukin-12 p40 and IFN-γ inducible protein-10. In addition, there was an increase in memory CD8+ T cells specific for cytomegalovirus in vivo in response to α-GalCer-loaded DCs, but not unpulsed DCs. These data demonstrate the feasibility of sustained expansion of NKT cells in vivo in humans, including patients who have advanced cancer, and suggest that NKT activation might help to boost adaptive T cell immunity in vivo.


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