• dendritic cells;
  • diabetes;
  • immunotherapy;
  • NKT cells;
  • regulatory T cells


Protection from type 1 diabetes (T1D), a T helper type 1 (Th1)-mediated disease, is achievable in non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice by treatment with α-galactosylceramide (α-GalCer) glycolipids that stimulate CD1d-restricted invariant natural killer T (iNK T) cells. While we have reported previously that the C20:2 N-acyl variant of α-GalCer elicits a Th2-biased cytokine response and protects NOD mice from T1D more effectively than a form of α-GalCer that induces mixed Th1 and Th2 responses, it remained to determine whether this protection is accompanied by heightened anti-inflammatory responses. We show that treatment of NOD mice with C20:2 diminished the activation of ‘inflammatory’ interleukin (IL)-12 producing CD11chighCD8+ myeloid dendritic cells (mDCs) and augmented the function of ‘tolerogenic’ DCs more effectively than treatment with the prototypical iNKT cell activator KRN7000 (α-GalCer C26:0) that induces Th1- and Th2-type responses. These findings correlate with a reduced capacity of C20:2 to sustain the early transactivation of T, B and NK cells. They may also explain our observation that C20:2 activated iNK T cells depend less than KRN7000 activated iNK T cells upon regulation by regulatory T cells for cytokine secretion and protection from T1D. The enhanced anti-inflammatory properties of C20:2 relative to KRN7000 suggest that C20:2 should be evaluated further as a drug to induce iNK T cell-mediated protection from T1D in humans.