• dsRNA;
  • Th2 sensitization;
  • TNF-α;
  • TNF receptor-2;
  • type I natural killer T cells



Recent evidence indicates that TNF-α is a key mediator of the development of dsRNA-enhanced Th2 cell response to inhaled allergens. Natural killer T (NKT) cells may be a candidate source of Th2-polarizing cytokines.


The objective of this study was to evaluate the role of lung NKT cells on the development of TNF-α-mediated Th2 cell response.


A virus-associated asthma mouse model was generated by the administration of ovalbumin (OVA, 75 μg) and poly[I:C] (0.1 μg). Role of NKT and type I NKT cells was evaluated using CD1d- and Jα18-deficient mice. TNF-α receptors (TNFRs) were antagonized by using TNFR blocking peptides.


The number of infiltrated NKT cells was increased in a virus-associated asthma mouse model. Increase in Th2 and Th17 cytokine levels in wild-type mice were abolished in both CD1d- and Jα18-deficient mice. In vitro co-culture experiments with alveolar macrophages and NKT cells showed that TNF-α produced by macrophages in the presence of poly[I:C] acts on NKT cells, inducing production of Th2-polarizing cytokines. Moreover, the induction of Th2-polarizing cytokines by poly[I:C] or recombinant TNF-α was impaired in both CD1d- and Jα18-deficient mice and that the above effect was reversed by a TNF-α receptor-2 (TNFR2) blocking peptide, but not by a TNFR1 blocker.


These findings suggest that NKT cells play a key role in the development of Th2 cell response to inhaled allergens and that TNF-α produced by alveolar macrophages induces Th2 cell response, via TNFR2 on NKT cells.