Commensal microbial regulation of natural killer T cells at the frontiers of the mucosal immune system

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleContributedpeer-review



The commensal microbiota co-exists in a mutualistic relationship with its human host. Commensal microbes play critical roles in the regulation of host metabolism and immunity, while microbial colonization, conversely, is under control of host immunity and metabolic pathways. These interactions are of central importance to the maintenance of homeostasis at mucosal surfaces and their perturbation can provide the basis for atopic and chronic inflammatory diseases such as asthma and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Recent evidence has revealed that natural killer T (NKT) cells, a subgroup of T cells which recognizes self and microbial lipid antigens presented by CD1d, are key mediators of host-microbial interactions. Mucosal and systemic NKT cell development is under control of the commensal microbiota, while CD1d regulates microbial colonization and influences the composition of the intestinal microbiota. Here, we outline the mechanisms of bidirectional cross-talk between the microbiota and CD1d-restricted NKT cells and discuss how a perturbation of these processes can contribute to the pathogenesis of immune-mediated disorders at mucosal surfaces.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4188-94
Number of pages7
JournalFEBS letters
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2014

External IDs

Scopus 84908313599


Sustainable Development Goals


  • Animals, Antigens, CD1d/metabolism, Humans, Inflammation/immunology, Intestinal Mucosa/immunology, Microbiota, Natural Killer T-Cells/immunology, Symbiosis