About this book
Natural killer T (NKT) cells are CD1d-restricted T cells that respond to lipid, not protein, antigens presented by CD1d, which is a non-classical MHC class I-like molecule. This relatively small but pivotal T cell population bridges the gap between innate and adaptive immunity by rapidly produce large amounts of many kinds of cytokines and by providing the T cell arm of the adaptive immune system a mechanism to detect lipid antigens. NKT cells also have both regulatory and effector functions and have been shown to play critical roles in the regulation of immune responses in many disease settings including cancer. Stimulating the protective functions of NKT cells while inhibiting the negative regulatory activity shows promise for the therapy of cancer and several approaches are in clinical trials.
This book reviews what we have learned about NKT cells during last two decades through functional studies in the context of tumor immunology, including clinical trials of NKT cell targeted therapy. This knowledge should also be informative to understand the role of this underappreciated T cell population in many other fields outside of tumor immunology.