?The?Journal?of?Clinical?Investigation http://www.jci.org Volume 121 Number 1 January 2011
Endogenous collagen peptide activation
of CD1d-restricted NKT cells ameliorates
tissue-specific inflammation in mice
Yawei Liu,1,2 Anna Teige,2 Emma Mondoc,2,3,4 Saleh Ibrahim,5
Rikard Holmdahl,3,4 and Shohreh Issazadeh-Navikas1,2
1Neuroinflammation Unit, Biotech Research and Innovation Centre, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. 2Neuroinflammation Unit, University of Lund,
Lund, Sweden. 3Medical Inflammation Research, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
4Medical Inflammation Research, University of Lund, Lund, Sweden. 5Immunogenetics Group, University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany.
The immune system responds to invading pathogens by recogniz-
ing their antigenic structures, while remaining unresponsive to
self antigens. This simplified model, however, is challenged by the
understanding that autoreactivity is a common feature of healthy
organisms and a part of peripheral tolerance mechanisms. To gen-
erate animal models for autoimmune diseases, susceptible species
are often immunized with self antigens. However, not all immuno-
genic self antigens have the capacity to provoke a pathogenic auto-
immune response, and some of them confer protection (1). A widely
accepted animal model for human rheumatoid arthritis is collagen-
induced arthritis (CIA) in mice. CIA is induced by immunizing sus-
ceptible mouse strains with cartilage-derived triple helical type II
collagen (CII). In mice expressing the MHC class II molecule H-2Aq,
the disease-mediating epitope is an immunodominant glycopep-
tide derived from position 260–270 of rat CII (2). In comparison
with heterologous CII, mouse CII, although capable of inducing
arthritis, provokes a much weaker immune response to the immu-
nodominant epitope and induces a lower incidence of arthritis
(3). However, mouse CII immunization induces a recall prolifera-
tive response toward multiple epitopes in addition to the MHC
class II–restricted CII260–270 peptide (4). The major epitopes share
a common motif, with the strongest located at position 707–721
(mCII707–721). By investigating the immune response to this epi-
tope, surprisingly, we found that this peptide was not MHC I/II
restricted, but was binding and presented by CD1d, a cluster of
differentiation glycoprotein. This led to the identification of a
population of NKT cells that responded to mCII707–721 and were
CD1d-restricted, TCRαβ+CD4+NK1.1+ cells.
CD1d is an alternative, MHC class I–like glycoprotein that pres-
ents antigens to NKT cells. The most extensively described popu-
lation of CD1d-restricted NKT cells are reactive to the exogenous
glycolipid α-galactosylceramide (αGalCer) (5). An endogenous
ligand, isoglobotrihexosylceramide, has been shown to be involved
in NKT cell autoreactivity (6). In addition to the association of
CD1d with the binding and/or presentation of self and exogenous
lipid or glycolipids (6), early reports have also indicated peptide-
presenting capacity of CD1d (7–9).
Although the regulatory function of NKT cells is debated
(5, 10), reports over the past decade have shown that both for-
eign and self-lipid–reactive CD1d-restricted NKT cells can regu-
late autoimmune diseases, moderate graft rejection, assist in
host defense against infection, and promote tumor rejection,
in spite of their relatively small population size (10–13). The
immune regulatory function of CD1d-restricted NKT cells is
ascribed to their capacity for rapidly releasing large quantities of
cytokines, including IL-4 and IFN-γ (10). In the current report,
we show that the mCII707–721–specific NKT cells are competent
to produce IL-4, IFN-γ, IL-17A, TNF-α, and TGF-β upon peptide
stimulation. However, the regulatory function of mCII707–721–
specific NKT cells is likely through the Fas-FasL–mediated kill-
ing of activated T cells, not by cytokine production. Prevacci-
nation with the mCII707–721 peptide resulted in downregulation
of both Th1- and Th2-mediated immune responses and tissue
inflammation in vivo. To our knowledge, this is the first report
showing the existence of a CD1d-presented endogenous peptide
Authorship?note: Yawei Liu and Anna Teige contributed equally to this work.
Conflict?of?interest: The authors have declared that no conflict of interest exists.
Citation?for?this?article: J Clin Invest. 2011;121(1):249–264. doi:10.1172/JCI43964.
250? The?Journal?of?Clinical?Investigation http://www.jci.org Volume 121 Number 1 January 2011
with the capacity to activate immune-suppressive NKT cells.
The results have implications for antiinflammatory vaccines for
human autoimmune disorders.
Collagen peptide mCII707–721 activates CD4+TCRαβ+ T cells in an
MHC I/II–independent manner. We immunized B10.Q mice with
mCII707–721 and observed a strong and specific immune response,
as measured by rechallenge of LN cells (LNCs) in vitro with
mCII707–721 (Figure 1A). No response was induced in the absence
of antigen (media) or by using a nonrelated peptide control,
the mouse collagen type I α 1 chain peptide mCI707–721, which
shares high homology with mCII707–721. mCI707–721 was chosen
as the negative control because this 15-aa peptide is similar to
mCII707–721 in size and sequence, differing in only 4 aa positions.
It also does not elicit any T cell proliferation. Purified protein
derivative (PPD) has been used as a positive control (recall anti-
gen) for accuracy of immunization and proliferation, given that
it was used for all the in vivo assays. PPD reactivity showed a
proliferation index (mean ± SD) of 12.8 ± 2.1. We also immu-
nized C57BL/6 mice (H2b, 6 mice per group) with mCII707–721
and observed a similar immune response as with B10.Q (prolif-
eration indexes: media = 1; mCI707–721 = 1.25 ± 0.23; mCII707–721 =
3.68 ± 0.32, P ≤ 0.001 versus each negative and positive control;
PPD = 12.78 ± 2.09). This indicates that the mCII707–721–reactive
response is not strain specific. However, to control for possible
strain-specific effects, the remainder of the study utilized only
mice of B10.Q background.
Immunodominant mouse collagen type II peptide mCII707–721 is CD1d restricted and activates CD4+TCRαβ+ NKT cells. (A) Significant proliferative
response was observed after in vitro peptide stimulation of LNCs from mCII707–721–immunized mice (WT B10.Q). Controls are medium or control
peptide mCI707–721. Proliferation index (PI) was calculated by normalizing all cpm values to media control as 1. (B) PI in response to mCII707–721
in KO mice, all B10.Q background. Proliferation was significantly reduced compared with WT littermates in Tcrab–/–, CD4–/–, and CD1d–/– mice,
indicating that the mCII707–721 peptide response depends on CD1d-restricted CD4+TCRαβ+ T cells, but not classical MHC I/II presentation. (C)
PI in response to mCII707–721 in B10.Q LNCs. Blocking with anti–MHC II and anti–MHC I antibodies produced similar levels of PI compared with
mCII707–721 with control antibody. PI was calculated by normalizing all cpm values to media control as 1. (D) In vitro rechallenge response to
mCII707–721, abrogated by anti-CD1 (1B1, 10 μg/ml) or anti-NK1.1 (PK136, 10 μg/ml), indicating that CD1d-dependent NKT cells were operative
in the response. PI was calculated by normalizing all cpm values to media control as 1. Data are mean ± SD, n = 6. **P ≤ 0.01; ***P ≤ 0.001.
? The?Journal?of?Clinical?Investigation http://www.jci.org Volume 121 Number 1 January 2011
We characterized the T cell response toward the mCII707–721
peptide, using KO mice of genotypes MHC II–/–, TAP1–/–, CD1d–/–,
Tcrab–/–, Tcrgd–/–, CD4–/–, and CD8–/–, all backcrossed to the same
genetic background, B10.Q. These were immunized and LNCs
were rechallenged with or without antigens in vitro. Proliferative
response to mCII707–721 required TCRαβ expression, CD4+ T cells,
and CD1d, but was not dependent on TCRγδ expression or CD8+
T cells (Figure 1B). No difference in proliferation was observed
among the various KO mice and WT B10.Q mice in response to
control peptides used in the assay (data not shown).
We investigated potential antigen-presenting molecules for
mCII707–721 using MHC II–/– mice and TAP-deficient mice (TAP1–/–),
which lack transporter associated with antigen processing, impor-
tant for presentation of MHC I–restricted peptides. By utilizing
these mice (Figure 1B), as well as monoclonal antibodies to block
MHC class I and II (Figure 1C), sustained proliferation to mCII707–721
was observed. These data indicate that the mCII707–721 response was
neither MHC II– nor MHC I–restricted. An MHC II–binding assay
also verified that the mCII707–721 peptide did not bind to H-2q (data
not shown). These results demonstrate that the T cell response to
mCII707–721 was dependent on CD4 and TCRαβ, but unexpectedly,
did not involve MHC I or II presentation.
mCII707–721 binds to CD1d and activates NKT cells. Mice were immu-
nized with mCII707–721, and recall antigen reactivity of LNCs or
splenocytes was measured 10–13 days after immunization. As
shown in Figure 1B and Figure 1D, the proliferative response
to mCII707–721 was essentially completely diminished when mice
genetically lacking CD1d-dependent NKT cells (CD1d–/– mice)
were investigated or monoclonal antibodies to CD1d or NK1.1
were added to cultures prior to restimulation with mCII707–721.
mCII707–721 binds CD1d. (A) The binding capacity of mCII707–721 to CD1d was determined using ELISA plates coated with CD1d-Ig dimer,
with biotin-labeled anti-CD1d (bio–anti-CD1) (positive control), biotin-labeled mCII707–721 peptide, or biotin-labeled mCI707–721 (negative control).
Excess nonlabeled mCII707–721 peptide with biotin-labeled mCII707–721 peptide was used for competitive binding. Significant differences were seen
in wells with biotin-labeled mCII707–721 peptide compared with negative control or excess nonlabeled peptide. (B) mCII707–721 binding to CD1d
was concentration dependent, with a maximum binding capacity of 0.6 μg/ml. Ratio of binding is the fluorometer OD of the sample divided by
the positive control OD. (C) αGalCer and biotinylated-labeled mCII707–721 peptide compete for binding to CD1d. Biotinylated-labeled mCII707–721
peptide binding to CD1d is considered as 100% binding. Data are mean ± SD, n = 3–4. **P ≤ 0.01; ***P ≤ 0.001.
252?The?Journal?of?Clinical?Investigation http://www.jci.org Volume 121 Number 1 January 2011
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No effect on mCI707–721 or PPD was observed (data not shown).
Similarly, depletion of NK1.1+ cells, or antibody blocking
of CD1d in vivo prior to subsequent immunization with
mCII707–721, resulted in reduced proliferative response to mCII707–721
(data not shown). Thus, the response to mCII707–721 was con-
firmed to be CD1d restricted.
The binding capacity of CD1d for mCII707–721 was determined
using recombinant soluble dimeric mouse CD1d immunoglobulin
and biotinylated mCII707–721. Significant binding of biotinylated
mCII707–721 to CD1d was observed, while no binding of the nega-
tive control, biotinylated mCI707–721, was detected. Excess nonbio-
tinylated mCII707–721 peptide effectively competed for binding of
biotinylated mCII707–721 to CD1d (Figure 2A). Figure 2B shows that
the interaction was dose dependent and saturable. Using αGalCer
with biotinylated mCII707–721 revealed that at certain concentra-
tions it competes for the binding to CD1d, indicating partial com-
petition for the binding site (Figure 2C). PBS (non-CD1d-Ig dimer)
is used for negative control.
mCII707–721 activates a heterogeneous NKT cell population. To investi-
gate the frequency of NKT cell expansion in response to mCII707–721,
WT B10.Q mice were treated in vivo with mCII707–721 and CFA and
13 days later, splenocytes were analyzed. mCII707–721 is capable of
significantly inducing NKT cell expansion (gated on CD4+NK1.1+
T cells) compared with all other control groups, namely vehicle-
treated (CFA), mCI707–721, and naive mice (Figure 3, A and B).
To further characterize the mCII707–721–responding T cells, a
peptide-specific cell line was established by subjecting LNCs from
mice immunized with mCII707–721 to different cycles of restimula-
tion and resting. Expression of the NK1.1 marker was confirmed
after each round of antigenic stimulation. Figure 3C shows that
57% of the CD4+ mCII707–721–specific T cells in the primary cell line
were NK1.1+ T cells. This percentage increased to 65% after the sec-
ond stimulation and to 88% after the third, indicating enrichment
of NKT cells upon antigenic stimulation.
NKT cells can utilize a diverse combination of Vα and Vβ
chains, with evidence suggesting that any of the Vβ chains can
pair with the Vα14 invariant chain (14). The TCR Vα usage of
the mCII707–721–specific NKT line was characterized by real-time
quantitative PCR (qPCR) and FACS. A conventional T cell line
specific to the CNS self-antigenic peptide myelin oligodendrocyte
glycoprotein 79–96 (MOG79–96) was included for comparison. The
mCII707–721–specific NKT cell line showed higher expression of
Vα14-Jα18 than the conventional T cell line by real-time quanti-
tative PCR (qPCR) (Figure 3D). Using a panel of Vβ TCR antibod-
ies to stain mCII707–721–specific NKT cells showed that these cells
utilize polyclonal and diverse Vβ chains (Figure 3E). Although
some skewing toward usage of Vβ8.2 is seen, mCII707–721 reactivity
is heterogeneous, not clonal.
Activation of mCII707–721–reactive NKT cells requires TCR and costimu-
latory signaling. To examine TCR signaling in the mCII707–721–spe-
cific response, we investigated ZAP-70 phosphorylation in the
mCII707–721–specific NKT cell line. NKT cells stimulated with
mCII707–721 expressed phosphorylated ZAP-70 on the cell mem-
brane, indicating TCR engagement and signaling (Figure 4A).
Furthermore, blocking CD1d by adding a neutralizing antibody
to the culture medium completely inhibited the appearance of
phosphorylated ZAP-70 on the cell surface. Thus, interaction
among CD1d, mCII707–721, and TCR is operative in the activation
of mCII707–721–specific NKT cells.
The requirement for costimulatory signals in the activation
of mCII707–721–specific NKT cells was studied using antibod-
ies or fusion proteins to block the B7- and CD40-dependent
pathways in peptide-stimulated LNC cultures from mCII707–721–
immunized mice. Blocking either the CD40/CD40L or the
B7/CD28 pathways led to significant inhibition of the prolifera-
tive response (Figure 4B) and showed that B7.1, but not B7.2,
was the crucial ligand for CD28 on the NKT cells. The data sup-
port the interpretation that B7.1-CD28 and CD40-CD40L, in
addition to CD1d-TCR ligation, are the necessary signals for
mCII707–721–induced NKT cell activation.
mCII707–721–specific NKT cells produce cytokines. Cytokine production
by the mCII707–721–specific NKT cells was measured by ELISA for
IFN-γ, IL-2, IL-4, IL-10, TGF-β1, and TNF-α in peptide-stimulated
LNC cultures from mCII707–721–immunized mice. TGF-β1, IFN-γ,
and IL-4 production was significantly increased compared with
cells stimulated with the negative control media and mCI707–721
(Figure 5A). IL-2 and IL-10 production was undetectable (data
not shown). Interestingly, TNF-α production was significantly
reduced upon mCII707–721–specific NKT cell activation (Figure 5B).
The kinetics of cytokine production resembled those of conven-
tional T cells, i.e., peaking at 72 hours after restimulation in vitro
and showing no early burst of cytokines (data not shown).
To investigate whether NKT cells are the direct source of cytokine
production, we treated WT B10.Q mice with mCII707–721 plus CFA in
vivo. As control groups, mice were treated with mCI707–721 plus CFA;
an additional group received only vehicle (CFA), and finally a group
of mice did not receive any treatment (naive). Splenocytes were dis-
sected and single-cell suspensions treated in vitro with mCII707–721
for 48 hours. Cells were then stained for intracellular cytokines
and analyzed using FACS. As shown in Figure 6, mCII707–721–
specific NKT cells are capable of intracellular production of
TGF-β1, IFN-γ, IL-4, and TNF-α. However, the levels of TNF-α
intracellularly (Figure 5B) exhibited a trend similar to the levels
seen as assessed by ELISA (Figure 7D), i.e., reduction in the in vivo
mCII707–721–treated group compared with controls.
Cytokine production of mCII707–721–specific NKT cells is CD1d depen-
dent. Splenocytes from similarly treated B10.Q WT and CD1d–/–
mice were analyzed for the production of cytokines in response
to mCII707–721. As depicted in Figure 7, A–C, only WT mice that
mCII707–721 induces NKT cell expansion. (A and B) Splenocytes were
taken from naive WT (B10.Q) mice and in vivo CFA-, mCI707–721–, and
mCII707–721–treated mice. Single-cell suspensions were made and then
stimulated with 100 μg/ml mCII707–721 for 48 hours. n = 3 mice per group.
(A) A representative FACS staining shows total gated lymphocytes (upper
row) and gated CD4+NK1.1+ NKT cells (lower row). (B) Percentage of
CD4+NK1.1+ NKT cells from indicated groups. Data are mean ± SD,
n = 3. **P ≤ 0.01; ***P ≤ 0.001. (C) Proportion of NK1.1+ T cells in cell
line during the first stimulation of LNCs (57%), and after 2 (65%) and 3
(88%) in vitro stimulation cycles with mCII707–721. NK1.1+ T cells enriched
after each stimulation, indicating response and proliferation after
mCII707–721 exposure. Data are mean ± SD. n = 3. (D) mCII707–721–spe-
cific cell line characterized for TCR usage after 3 stimulation cycles with
a significantly higher proportion of Vα14-Jα18 by real-time qPCR com-
pared with control BQMOG79–96–specific T cells (top panel). Vα14 PCR
product in agarose gel is shown (bottom panel). Data are mean ± SD.
n = 3. ***P ≤ 0.001. (E) Splenocytes were taken from mCII707–721–immu-
nized mice treated with 100 μg/ml mCII707–721 for 48 hours. FACS stain-
ing shows TCR Vβ usage. Percentages were computed relative to the
sum of all of the 15 chains. Data are mean ± SD, n = 3.
254?The?Journal?of?Clinical?Investigation http://www.jci.org Volume 121 Number 1 January 2011
were treated in vivo with mCII707–721 showed significant capac-
ity to produce TGF-β1, IFN-γ, and IL-4, as measured by ELISA.
Moreover, mCII707–721–specific TGF-β1, IFN-γ, and IL-4 produc-
tion was significantly reduced in CD1d–/– compared with WT
mice, though interestingly, a significantly lower TNF-α produc-
tion was observed (Figure 7D).
mCII707–721–specific NKT suppression of T cells is Fas-FasL dependent.
In vitro suppression of T cells was investigated by activating syn-
geneic splenocytes with plate-bound anti-CD3 (here referred to as
responder cells), which were then cocultured with the mCII707–721–
specific NKT cell line. Responder cells proliferated vigorously
as indicated by a high proliferation index (Figure 8). However,
mCII707–721–specific cells significantly inhibited proliferation of
anti-CD3–stimulated responder T cells, compared with the control
conventional MOG79–96 T cell line. Since the mCII707–721–specific
NKT cells produced TGF-β1, IFN-γ, and IL-4 upon activation, we
assessed the role of these cytokines in T cell suppression. To block
these cytokines, neutralizing antibodies were added to mCII707–721–
mCII707–721–specific NKT cell activation engages TCR and requires costimulation. (A) Activation of mCII707–721–specific NKT cells operated
through TCR signaling. Percentage of phosphorylated ZAP70-positive cells in NK1.1+ T cells by FACS shows a significant increase over non-
stimulated cells upon mCII707–721 stimulation in vitro, with abrogation by blocking anti-CD1 (1B1, 10 μg/ml). (B) Costimulatory signals for prolifera-
tion after in vitro stimulation of LNCs from mCII707–721–immunized mice. Blocking with antibodies to costimulatory proteins significantly reduced
proliferation. Data are mean ± SD, n = 4. **P ≤ 0.01; ***P ≤ 0.001.
mCII707–721–specific NKT cells produce cytokines. (A) mCII707–721–specific cytokine production in primary LNCs from mCII707–721–immunized WT
mice measured by ELISA. Significantly elevated levels of TGF-β1, IFN-γ, and IL-4 (n = 3) in response to mCII707–721 are seen, but (B) TNF-α
levels were lowered. Data are mean ± SD, n = 6. *P ≤ 0.05; **P ≤ 0.01.
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specific NKT cell cultures prior to coculture with anti-CD3–acti-
vated splenocytes. The neutralizing antibodies did not affect the
significant decrease in responder T cell proliferation (Figure 8A),
indicating that the suppressive effect of mCII707–721–specific NKT
cells was independent of their cytokine production.
Since these soluble cytokines seem to exert no major effects in
the context of mCII707–721–specific NKT cell suppression, we inves-
tigated to determine whether cell-cell contact was required. As
depicted in Figure 8B, the suppressive function of the mCII707–721–
specific NKT cells was dependent on cell-cell contact, since sepa-
rating direct cell-cell interaction using a Transwell system abro-
gated their suppressive effect.
We investigated whether mCII707–721–specific NKT cells could
induce apoptosis, as measured by annexin V staining of anti-CD3–
activated responder cells. Upon coculture, mCII707–721–specific
NKT cells significantly induced apoptosis of anti-CD3–activated
responder cells (Figure 8C). As Fas-FasL is one of most common
mechanisms for induction of apoptosis (15), we used FasL-block-
ing antibody to determine whether Fas-FasL is involved in apopto-
sis induction. Cell death induced by mCII707–721–specific NKT cells
was Fas-FasL dependent, since adding FasL-blocking antibody to
the cultures inhibited apoptosis (Figure 8C). To confirm this result,
we purified mCII707–721–specific NKT cells from mCII707–721–immu-
nized Fas receptor–deficient mice (lpr mice). Anti-CD3–activated
responder cells were cocultured with mCII707–721–specific NKT
cells from lpr or WT mice, and cell death quantified as 7-amino-
actinomycin D–positive (7AAD-positive) cells by FACS. Figure 8D
shows that the cytotoxic function of mCII707–721–specific NKT cells
was Fas-FasL dependent.
IL-17A is not required for mCII707–721–specific NKT function. NKT cells
are reported to produce IL-17 (16), so we stained splenocytes from
mCII707–721–immunized mice for IL-17A. Upon immunization
with mCII707–721, 37.3% of NKT cells produced IL-17A (Figure 9A).
However, IL-17A did not appear to play a role in the suppressive
cells produce cytokines intra-
cellularly. Intracellular stain-
ing indicates that mCII707–721
induces TGF-β1, IFN-γ, and
IL-4 production (A–C), but not
increased TNF-α (D). (A–D)
Splenocytes were taken from
mCI707–721– and mCII707–721–
immunized mice, then stimulat-
ed with mCII707–721 for 48 hours.
Anti-CD3 (10 μg/ml) and anti-
CD28 (2 μg/ml) with brefeldin A
were added to cell cultures for
5 hours before staining. FACS
profile shows intracellular stain-
ing of TGF-β1, IFN-γ, IL-4, and
TNF-α. Cells were gated on
256?The?Journal?of?Clinical?Investigation http://www.jci.org Volume 121 Number 1 January 2011
function of these cells. CFSE-labeled CD4+ T cells were cocultured
with mCII707–721–specific NKT cells in an anti-CD3–coated plate,
with or without neutralizing IL-17A antibody. After 48 hours, cell
death was analyzed with 7AAD staining on gated CD4+ T cells. The
percentage of 7AAD+ T cells was similar with or without IL-17A
blocking, suggesting that IL-17A was not involved in mCII707–721–
specific NKT cells’ suppressive function (Figure 9B).
mCII707–721–specific NKT cells prevent Th1- and Th2-mediated responses.
The in vivo suppressive capacity of mCII707–721–specific NKT
cells was investigated using B10.Q mice vaccinated with
mCII707–721 or the negative control peptide mCI707–721, prior to
induction of a delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) reaction.
Mice vaccinated with mCII707–721 developed significantly less
inflammation than the control group (Figure 10, A and B).
Moreover, the antiinflammatory effect of mCII707–721 vacci-
nation was dependent upon activation of CD1d-restricted
mCII707–721–specific NKT cells, since lack of this population in
CD1d–/– mice resulted in significant abrogation of the antiin-
flammatory effect (Figure 10C). These results support the in
vitro findings that CD1d-restricted mCII707–721–specific NKT
cells suppress T cell activation and hence inhibit Th1-polarized
We next studied the effect of CD1d-restricted mCII707–721 NKT
cells on the Th2-mediated immune response. Mice were vacci-
nated as above and then to provoke a Th2 response were injected
with OVA emulsified in alum. Interestingly, a downregulated Th2
response was observed in the mCII707–721–vaccinated group com-
pared with control. A significant decrease in IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13
production was detected in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF)
after OVA rechallenge in WT mice. Moreover, we observed that
vaccination with mCII707–721 repressed IgE production in BALF
of WT mice. Furthermore, mCII707–721–specific NKT cell activa-
tion and the antiinflammatory effects of such activation were
determined to be CD1d restricted, as CD1d–/– mice lacked such
capacity (Figure 11). Taken together, the observations show that
the mCII707–721–specific CD1d-restricted NKT cells are involved in
immune regulation of both Th1-mediated cellular responses and
Th2-mediated humoral immune responses.
mCII707–721–specific NKT cells produce cytokines. (A–D) Higher TGF-β1, IFN-γ, and IL-4 production and lower TNF-α production were seen from
mCII707–721–immunized splenocytes compared with all other control groups in WT mice but not in CD1d–/– mice. Spleens were taken from CFA,
mCI707–721–, and mCII707–721–immunized mice, then treated with mCII707–721 for 48 hours. Supernatants were taken for ELISAs of TGF-β1, IFN-γ,
IL-4, and TNF-α. Data are mean ± SD, n = 5 mice per group. *P ≤ 0.05; **P ≤ 0.01; ***P ≤ 0.001.
?The?Journal?of?Clinical?Investigation http://www.jci.org Volume 121 Number 1 January 2011
Activation of mCII707–721–specific NKT cells ameliorates CIA. The
mCII707–721 peptide is a major epitope in mouse collagen type II,
so mCII707–721–specific cells might be crucial for regulating CIA.
To test our hypothesis, B10.Q mice were vaccinated with either
mCII707–721 or control peptide 10 days prior to CIA induction. We
found that mCII707–721 vaccination ameliorated the severity of
arthritis compared with the control (Figure 12A). The incidence in
the mCII707–721–treated group was 74% compared with 93% in the
control group. Both clinical signs of disease and histopathologi-
cal studies revealed that mCII707–721–vaccinated mice had less joint
inflammation than control peptide–vaccinated mice (Figure 12B).
Prevention of inflammation in these mice was associated with sig-
nificantly reduced numbers of CD4+ T cells in synovial infiltra-
tion (mean ± SD; 12 ± 3 vs. 37 ± 7, n = 10, P ≤ 0.05) and reduced
production of IFN-γ, IL-4, and TNF-α (Figure 12, C and D), as
determined by joint tissue immunohistochemistry staining. These
results support the possibility of controlling arthritis by activation
of mCII707–721–specific CD1d-restricted NKT cells.
Vaccination with mCII707–721 ameliorates EAE. The DTH and OVA
sensitization experiments indicated that the suppressive quality of
the mCII707–721–specific NKT cells was not antigen or tissue specific.
Therefore, we evaluated the effect of vaccination with mCII707–721 on
EAE, a well-described Th1-mediated autoimmune disease affecting
the CNS and a widely used experimental model for MS. EAE was
mCII707–721–specific NKT cells have a suppressive function. (A and B) Suppressor assay was performed using in vitro–stimulated anti-CD3 sple-
nocytes (responder cells) from B10.Q mice, cocultured for 64 hours with either mCII707–721–specific NKT cell line or B10.Q-restricted MOG79–96–
specific T cell line (control) at a 1:1 ratio. Proliferation index was calculated by normalizing all cpm values to media control as 1. (A) Blocking
IFN-γ, IL-4, TGF-β1, and TGF-β receptor with antibodies (20 μg/ml) had no effect on NKT cell suppression compared with isotype-matched con-
trols; therefore suppression did not operate through cytokine release from mCII707–721–specific NKT cells. Data are mean ± SD, n = 3. *P ≤ 0.05;
***P ≤ 0.001. (B) Significantly reduced proliferation of anti-CD3–stimulated responder cells was observed when cultured with the mCII707–721–specific
NKT cells (with or without Transwell system) compared with control cells. Proliferation of the responder cells was restored when a Transwell system
inhibited cell-cell contact. Data are mean ± SD, n = 2–3. **P ≤ 0.01; ***P ≤ 0.001. (C) Cell death by annexin V+ FACS analysis of cocultured spleno-
cytes (CFSE labeled), showing that the mCII707–721–specific NKT cell line induced significantly elevated cell death levels compared with the control
cells. Anti-FasL (20 μg/ml) before coculturing revealed that splenocyte killing was mediated by FasL interaction. Data are mean ± SD, n = 3. **P ≤ 0.01.
(D) Splenocytes (CFSE labeled) from WT mice stimulated with plate-bound anti-CD3 and cocultured for 48 hours with NKT cells purified from
mCII707–721–immunized WT mice or lpr mice. Cell death was determined by 7AAD staining. Data are mean ± SD, n = 10 mice per group. **P ≤ 0.01.
258?The?Journal?of?Clinical?Investigation http://www.jci.org Volume 121 Number 1 January 2011
induced in B10.Q WT mice vaccinated with mCII707–721 by immuniza-
tion with MOG79–96. EAE progression was significantly suppressed in
mCII707–721–vaccinated mice, resulting in low mean clinical scores com-
pared with the control group vaccinated with mCI707–721 (Figure 13A).
Although no differences were seen between the 2 groups in dis-
ease incidence (both groups had 89% disease), affected mice in the
mCII707–721–vaccinated group recovered entirely, while control
group mice exhibited lingering symptoms up to 1 month after dis-
ease induction. In support, the CNS of mCII707–721–vaccinated mice
showed significantly less demyelination than control mice (Figure 13,
B and C), which correlated well with the clinical findings and the
general inflammation observed in the CNS (data not shown).
These data strongly support the capacity of mCII707–721–spe-
cific NKT cells to suppress a variety of inflammatory conditions,
not limited to the Th1/Th2 paradigm nor restricted to collagen-
CD1d-restricted NKT cells exert profound and diverse regulatory
effects in disease. They have deservedly earned the distinction of
bridging the innate and adaptive immune systems, showing capac-
ity for antiinflammation activity.
However, despite almost 2 decades of study, research on natural
ligands of NKT cells has not resulted in identification of any self-
peptide ligands that could activate NKT cells. Many experimental
systems and clinical models have focused on exogenous glycolipids
(such as αGalCer) presented by CD1d and highly potent in activa-
tion of NKT cells. Although this approach has been important to
the characterization of NKT cells’ properties and functions, the
biology of endogenous antigen–presentation by CD1d and activa-
tion of CD1d-dependent NKT cells remains largely unknown. The
discovery of endogenous ligands, including self-peptide ligands
that bind to CD1d, can shed light on the innate physiological
functions of CD1d-dependent NKT cells. Our results support the
idea that self-peptide reactivity could be considered part of the
intrinsic immune function of NKT cells to maintain tolerance to
self in cases of tissue inflammation.
We show here for what we believe is the first time a population
of CD4+TCRαβ+ NKT cells with specificity for a self-tissue peptide
that binds to CD1d. These CD1d-restricted mCII707–721–specific
NKT cells constitute an important component of the peripheral
tolerance maintenance mechanism in that they protect against
tissue-specific autoimmunity. Although mCII707–721–specific NKT
cells are part of the peripheral pool of immune cells, they require
activation via CD1d–self-antigen–TCR signaling to become com-
petent immune regulators. Significantly, they suppress a range of
inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.
Although CD1d has a large hydrophobic groove more suitable
for the binding of glycolipids, studies have reinforced the notion
that peptides can bind (9). How the mCII707–721 structurally fits
into this groove is not clear. Other studies have shown that a
CD1d-restricted peptide can elicit a cellular immune response
in vivo (17), leading the researchers to opine that intracellular
murine CD1d might normally be associated with peptides and
therefore peptide presentation may be a true physiologic func-
tion of murine CD1d (8).
Here, we determined that mCII707–721 does bind to CD1d and
has the capacity to be presented to NKT cells. In support of this
observation, CD1d presentation of mCII707–721 to NKT cells
upregulated phosphorylated ZAP-70, a tyrosine kinase that is
crucial for productive stimulation of T cells through TCR signal-
ing after activation of TCR/CD3 (18). We found that mCII707–721–
specific NKT cells required costimulatory signals via B7.1/CD28
and CD40/CD40L pathways, supporting earlier studies on NKT
cell activation requirements (19). The limited usage of Vα and
the Vβ chain diversity in the TCR of NKT cells, combined with
a nonpolymorphic CD1d, suggest that the CD1d-restricted
NKT cells may recognize a single or conserved set of antigens.
Although some skewing toward Vα14-Jα18, Vβ8.2 TCR usage
was observed in mCII707–721–reactive NKT cells, this response is
far from being a clonal response. Instead, the mCII707–721 peptide
activates a heterogeneous NKT cell population, as identified
with a panel of Vβ TCR that showed it to be polyclonal and
diverse. Nonetheless, variations in CD1d-restricted antigen pre-
IL-17A from mCII707–721–specific NKT cells does not
affect suppression. (A) FACS with CD4, NK1.1, IL-17A
antibodies and LIVE-DEAD marker from B10.Q WT
mouse splenocytes 10 days after immunization with
mCII707–721. One representative FACS is shown, with
the percentage of IL-17A cells in CFSE-labeled sple-
nocytes, CD4+ T cells, and CD4+ NK1.1+ NKT cells. (B)
Single-cell spleen suspensions from B10.Q WT mice
immunized with mCII707–721 stained for CD4 and NK1.1,
purified by FACS. CD4+ T cells were stimulated with
plate-bound anti-CD3 and cocultured for 48 hours with
NKT cells with or without anti–IL-17A. Cell death was
determined by 7AAD staining.
? The?Journal?of?Clinical?Investigation http://www.jci.org Volume 121 Number 1 January 2011
sentation could arise from differences in expression, trafficking,
processing, or loading of antigens (20).
We show that antigen-specific production of TGF-β1, IFN-γ, and
IL-4 by CD1d-restricted mCII707–721–specific NKT cells resembles
conventional T cells in the adaptive immune response. IL-17 pro-
duction is associated with CD4+NK1.1+ invariant NKT cells (21)
and is suggested to be pathogenic in several autoimmune diseases
(22, 23). However, the pathogenic role of IL-17–producing Th17
cells has also received challenges (24), and the regulatory role for
regulatory T cells has been shown to be independent of their influ-
ence on Th17 (25). Still, a potential influence for IL-17–producing
NKT cells on the regulation of autoimmune diseases could be plau-
sible. In the present study, we found CD1d-restricted mCII707–721–
specific NKT cells produced IL-17A, but it was not involved in
their suppressive function. In support, CD1d-dependent NKT
cells’ regulation of arthritis is IL-17 independent (26).
Of note, the mCII707–721–specific NKT cells suppressed anti-CD3–
activated T cells in a cell-cell contact–dependent manner. Cytokines
including IL-4, IL-10, IL-13, and TGF-β1 have been suggested as
important mediators in NKT cell suppressive functions (10, 27), so
suppression mediated by a final release of cytokines upon cell inter-
action could be feasible. However, we detected no role for cytokine
production by the mCII707–721–specific NKT cells in their in vitro–
suppressive effects on T cells since neutralizing these cytokines did
not prevent the suppressive effects. In our previous work, the regu-
latory role of CD1d-restricted NKT cells in EAE was associated with
TGF-β1 production in the CNS (28). While mCII707–721–specific
NKT cells produce substantial levels of TGF-β1 upon restimula-
tion, the suppressive function of this cell population on T cell pro-
liferation is independent of TGF-β1–TGF-β receptor interaction.
This does not rule out the possibility that NKT cells could exert
their regulatory functions in inflamed tissues via TGF-β1 secretion,
since NKT cells may target cell types other than T cells. Interest-
ingly, mCII707–721–specific NKT cells induced FasL-mediated apop-
tosis in activated T cells, similar to the killing of tumor cells by
αGalCer-activated NKT cells (29). Consistent with other studies
that show regulation of T cells by NKT cells through the use of
Fas-FasL (30, 31), our data suggest that this could be one pathway
by which physiologically relevant self-antigen–reactive NKT cells
limit autoreactive T cells and prevent chronicity of tissue inflam-
mation. We show that cytotoxicity of NKT cells against activated
T cells was completely Fas-dependent in vitro and partially so in
vivo. It is thus possible that when the Fas/FasL pathway is defective,
other pathways could operate to mediate mCII707–721–specific NKT
cell–mediated suppression. This possibility is supported by studies
in a myelomonocytic leukemia cell line, in which human NKT cells
were shown to utilize multiple cytotoxic mechanisms, including
perforin/granzyme-B, TNF-α, FAS-L, and TRAIL in vitro (32).
With clear indications that the self mCII707–721–specific NKT cell
population could suppress activated T cell responses and dampen
inflammation, we investigated whether it could also regulate tissue-
specific inflammation and autoimmunity in mice. Using a Th1-
driven DTH assay and a Th2-driven antigen-induced airway inflam-
mation, we found, unexpectedly, that mCII707–721–specific NKT cell
activation reduced both the Th1-mediated DTH reaction and the
Th2 cytokine response, and lowered IgE production. Thus, CD1d-
restricted mCII707–721–specific NKT cells regulate both Th1-driven
states and diminish humoral Th2 responses. Vaccination of mice
with mCII707–721 prior to CIA induction significantly ameliorated
arthritis, as evinced by lower clinical and histopathological scores.
Significantly lower joint inflammation was accompanied by reduc-
tion of all tested cytokines but no alteration of the Th1/Th2 profile
of cells infiltrating the joints. In accordance, recently we reported
that general activation of CD1d-dependent NKT cells in WT mice
prevents arthritis in different models of joint inflammation without
induction of a cytokine shift, while CD1d-deficient mice lacking this
population are defective in suppressing joint inflammation (26).
Given that NKT cells can either suppress or activate immunity,
their therapeutic use necessitates a thorough understanding of
their intrinsic biology. Limitations in this regard have been revealed
by αGalCer or its synthetic analogs, which despite some success in
early clinical trials have on the whole been less promising (33–35).
mCII707–721–specific NKT cells suppress Th1 cell–mediated immune responses. (A and B) In vivo activation of mCII707–721–specific NKT cells
significantly reduced Th1-driven inflammation due to DTH induced by rat CII, assessed by histopathological scoring of tissue inflammation.
Data are mean ± SD, n = 6 mice per group. *P ≤ 0.05. Original magnification, ×100. (C) DTH response in WT (B10.Q) is significantly lower than
in CD1d–/– mice. While mCII707–721 vaccination dampens DTH reaction, the mCI707–721–negative control peptide is inadequate to exert antiin-
flammatory effects. DTH response (ear swelling) was calculated by subtracting the thickness of the right ear from that of the left ear. Data are
mean ± SEM, n = 4–5 mice per group. *P ≤ 0.05.
260?The?Journal?of?Clinical?Investigation http://www.jci.org Volume 121 Number 1 January 2011
This could perhaps be attributed to the fact that these substances
are not found in self tissues and hence fail to replicate the natural
course of NKT cell activation in disease. mCII707–721–specific NKT
cells may be able to overcome these obstacles and achieve fuller
potential as treatments for autoimmune diseases and cancer.
A natural question emerging from the currently reported results
regards the tissue specificity of the autoimmune suppressive func-
tion of activated mCII707–721–specific NKT cells. Therefore, we
investigated its effect on inflammation of the CNS via an EAE
model. Mice vaccinated with mCII707–721 prior to induction of EAE
showed significantly reduced clinical symptoms and demyelin-
ation compared with the control group. We surmise that even if
the population of NKT cells is self-collagen specific, their suppres-
sive function is not necessarily restricted to arthritis and cartilage
tissue but can operate in other tissue-specific autoimmune and
The question of how the mCII707–721–specific NKT cells regu-
late autoimmunity in multiple models, specifically with regard
to their effects on autoreactive T cells, is of interest. This ability is
consistent with properties of conventional regulatory T cells (36)
as well as antigen-specific regulatory T cells generated in inflamed
tissues such as those of the CNS (37). Antigen-nonspecific
responses of NKT cells, or bystander suppression, could involve
different mechanisms. One of the widely discussed ideas is the
ability of NKT cells, even in a non–self-antigen–specific manner
(e.g., αGalCer or its analogs), to regulate multiple autoimmune
diseases via their capacity to produce an early burst of cytokines
and deviation of the Th1/Th2 axis (reviewed in ref. 38). However,
the suppressive function of mCII707–721–specific NKT cells differs
since we detected a cell-cell–mediated mechanism. This is consis-
tent with an earlier report (39) in which it was shown that NKT
cells inhibited the differentiation of naive autoreactive T cells into
effector cells. Here we have shown that the suppressive function of
mCII707–721–specific NKT cells is to a great extent via the engage-
ment of the Fas/FasL pathway. This supports a model whereby
activation of autoreactive NKT cells could inhibit further effector
T cell activation via a direct cytolytic effect.
Alternatively, the suppressive function of the NKT cells may also
be mediated by differential engagement of or effects on tissue-spe-
cific APCs such as macrophages (40), mature/immature DCs (41),
and/or B-1 B cells (42). The ability of NKT cells to modulate the
function of APCs, as discussed in a recent review (6), may therefore
play an important role in shaping the outcome of the immune
response. Hence, differential engagement of APCs in different tis-
sues, as the consequence of mCII707–721–specific NKT cell activation,
may also serve a broad immune regulatory function.
The results of the present study support the contention that self-
antigenic peptide-reactive NKT cells could be an important part of
the peripheral tolerance maintenance mechanisms. Their physiolog-
ical role may be to maintain tissue homeostasis through induction
of cell-cell–mediated cytotoxic action on activated lymphocytes and
to dampen inflammation regardless of the Th profile of its source.
This is in contrast to the rapid release of cytokines traditionally
assigned to the mode of action of NKT cells. Given that the joint is
prone to wear and tear, the presence of this peptide-specific NKT cell
population in the periphery could be part of the native physiology
that might partly explain the relative resistance to mouse type II col-
lagen–induced arthritis that is observed. As a general phenomenon
Activation of mCII707–721–spe-
cific CD1d-restricted NKT cells
in vivo significantly reduces
Th2-mediated responses to
OVA. (A–D) Expression of IL-4,
IL-5, IL-13, and IgE were all
significantly reduced in BALF
B10.Q mice compared with all
control-vaccinated groups of
mice. CD1d–/– mice lack such
flammatory effects. Data are
mean ± SD, n = 4–5 mice per
group. *P ≤ 0.05; **P ≤ 0.01;
***P ≤ 0.001.
? The?Journal?of?Clinical?Investigation http://www.jci.org Volume 121 Number 1 January 2011
across a range of disease states, such cells could act rapidly toward
any danger signal evoked by pathogens or inflammatory conditions.
The effect would be to prevent chronicity of the inflammation and
hence sustain immune balance and tissue homeostasis. Given the
high degree of conservation of NKT cells among species, therapeutic
immunization with an NKT-activating peptide may hold promise
for clinical benefit in human inflammatory diseases.
Mice. Animals were kept and bred at the animal facilities of the Univer-
sity of Lund or the University of Copenhagen. All animal experiments
were reviewed and approved by both of these universities’ institutional
review boards, located in Lund and Copenhagen, respectively. All studies
with mCII707–721 were performed on WT male C57BL/10.H-2q (B10.Q)
mice (originated from Jan Klein, University of Tubingen, Tubingen,
Germany). KO mice were backcrossed to this background to produce
well-controlled genetic strains to avoid strain-specific effects that might
influence the results.
Tcrab–/– or Tcrgd–/– mice were the results of targeted germ-line mutations
on 129 and backcrossed to C57BL/6J (The Jackson Laboratory). These were
backcrossed to the B10.Q background for 6 generations. Subsequent inter-
crossing of mice heterozygous or homozygous for mutated TCR yielded
homozygous (αβ or γδ T cell deficient) and heterozygous (normal T cell phe-
notype) littermates. T cell phenotypes were determined by flow cytometry
analysis of blood cells using mAbs against either TCRαβ (H57-597-FITC;
Pharmingen) or TCRγδ (GL3-PE; Pharmingen).
CD4- and CD8-deficient founders backcrossed to C57BL/6J mice (43)
were backcrossed to B10.Q for 10 generations, and positive offspring were
intercrossed twice to yield littermates homozygous for the WT gene, homo-
zygous for the disrupted gene, or heterozygous, as determined by flow
cytometry with anti-CD4 (Gk1.5-PE; BD) and anti-CD8 (53-6.7-biotin:
BD Biosciences — Pharmingen) mAbs.
MHC II–deficient and TAP-deficient mice (originally received from
Diana Mathis, Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology,
University of Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France) were backcrossed to
C57BL/6J for 20 generations and then backcrossed to B10.Q for 3 genera-
tions. The offspring deficient in targeted genes were intercrossed once to
yield homozygous KO or WT, and heterozygous littermates. lpr mice of
H-2q haplotype were received from Saleh Ibrahim (Department of Immu-
nology, Rostock University).
Activation of mCII707–721–specific NKT cells suppresses arthritis. (A) Prevaccination of B10.Q mice with mCII707–721 significantly reduced severity by
CIA clinical scoring compared with control peptide (mCI707–721) vaccination (14 mice per mCI707–721 group, 19 mice per mCII707–721 group; *P ≤ 0.05).
(B) Histological arthritic scores by H&E staining of joints. Data are mean ± SD, n = 5. **P ≤ 0.01. (C) Histological scores of percentage of IFN-γ–,
IL-4–, and TNF-α–positive cells were significantly reduced in the mCII707–721–vaccinated group. Data are mean ± SD, n = 5. *P ≤ 0.05. (D) Sup-
pression of arthritis was associated with reduced CD4+ T cell–infiltrating cells, IFN-γ–, and IL-4–producing cells by immunohistochemistry staining
of joints. Red-brown color shows positively stained cells. Scale bar: 100 μm.
262? The?Journal?of?Clinical?Investigation http://www.jci.org Volume 121 Number 1 January 2011
CD1d–/– mice (44) on a C57BL/6J background (over 20-generation back-
cross) were backcrossed to B10.Q for more than 5 generations. Animals
were sex and age matched (8–20 weeks) for all experiments.
Media and reagents. All cells were grown in cDMEM, DMEM with Gluta-
max-1 (GIBCO BRL, Life Technologies) supplemented with 10 mM HEPES
buffer, 10% heat-inactivated FCS, 0.16 μM/ml penicillin, 0.03 μM/ml
streptomycin, and 50 μM 2-mercaptoethanol. Growth was in a humidified
incubator at 37°C with 7.5% CO2. All reagents were from Sigma-Aldrich,
unless otherwise noted.
All peptides were from Schäfer. Mouse collagen type II peptide
mCII707–721 (PPGANGNPGPAGPPG) and negative control mouse col-
lagen type I peptide mCI707–721 (PPGPSGNAGPPGPPG) differ at posi-
tions 710 (proline to alanine), 711 (serine to asparagine), 714 (alanine
to proline), and 717 (proline to alanine). Biotinylated peptides were
used in binding assays.
Proliferation assays, mCII707–721–specific, and myelin-specific T cell lines. B10.Q
male mice, aged 8–14 weeks, were immunized in the hind paws and tail base
with 200 μl of a 1:1 emulsion of 100 μg of either mCII707–721 or mCI707–721
in PBS and CFA containing Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Ra (Difco). For
some experiments, B10.Q and a panel of KO mice on a B10.Q background
were used. Draining LNs or spleens were collected on days 10–13 after
immunization, and a single-cell suspension was prepared in PBS by pass-
ing through a sieve. Cells were washed and resuspended in cDMEM.
To measure T cell proliferation in response to mCII707–721, cells were cul-
tured in quadruplicate in round-bottom 96-well plates (Nunc) at 5 × 105 cells/
well and stimulated with 100 μg/ml mCII707–721 or mCI707–721 and/or media
only or PPD for 4 days in the presence of 1 μCi 3H-thymidine per well in
the final 12 hours of culture. 3H-thymidine incorporation was measured
in a beta scintillation counter (Matrix 96 Direct Beta Counter; Packard).
mCII707–721–specific and myelin-specific T cell lines were established as
previously published (37).
Blocking antibodies were anti-CD40L (20 μg/ml); anti–CTLA-4 (5 μg/ml);
anti-B7.1 Fab-fragment (20 μg/ml); anti-B7.2 Fab-fragment (20 μg/ml);
CTLA-4-lg fusion protein (10 μg/ml); and isotype controls (10 μg/ml).
CD1d-binding assay. Maxisorp plates (Nunc) were coated with recombi-
nant soluble dimeric mouse CD1d-lg dimer (BD Biosciences — Pharmin-
gen) at 4 μg/well. Biotin-labeled mCII707–721 (0.6 μg/well) was added and
incubated at 37°C for 2 hours. After washing, plates were incubated
with europium-avidin followed by enhancement buffer according to the
manufacturer’s instructions and fluorescence intensity measured on a
fluorometer (Wallac Oy EG & G). Biotin-labeled anti-CD1d was a positive
control, and biotin-labeled mCI707–721 was the negative control. Nonla-
beled mCII707–721 in excess or varying amounts of αGalCer was used to
assess competitive binding.
Ratio of binding for mCII707–721 to CD1d was calculated by dividing the
fluorometer OD value by the OD value for the positive control, for differ-
ent mCII707–721 concentrations.
FACS. Standard FACS procedures and analysis were followed (45).
Antibodies were from BD Biosciences — Pharmingen unless stated oth-
erwise and used at 1–5 μg/ml, and were PE-Cy5–anti-CD4 (GK1.5),
FITC–anti-TCR-β (H57-597), mouse Vβ TCR screening panel (cat. no.
557004), PE–anti–IL-4 (11B11), PE–anti–IFN-γ (XMG1.2), biotin–anti–
TGF-β1 (A75-3.1), streptavidin-PE (cat. no. 554061), APC–anti–TNF-α
(MP6-XT22), PE–anti–IL-17A (TC11-18H10), PE–anti-CD49b (DX5),
FITC– and PE–anti-NK1.1 (Pk136).
Real-time PCR. To detect TCR Vα14-Jα18 expression, total RNA was
extracted from the NKT cell line using a QIAGEN kit, reverse transcribed,
and amplified and quantified by SYBR Green detection. Primers were
Vα14-Jα18 primer, forward: 5′-TGGGAGATACTCAGCAACTCTGG-3′;
reverse: 5′-CAGGTATGACAATCAGCTGAGTCC-3′; and constant region
housekeeping forward: 5′-CCTCTGCCTGTTCACCGACTT-3′; reverse:
5′-TGGCGTTGGTCTCTTTGAAG-3′. PCR was 10 minutes at 95°C,
Activation of mCII707–721–specific NKT cells suppresses EAE neurological deficits. (A) Prevaccination of B10.Q mice with mCII707–721 significantly
reduced EAE clinical scoring compared with control peptide (mCI707–721) vaccination. n = 9–10 mice per group. *P ≤ 0.05; **P ≤ 0.01. (B and C)
Demyelination in CNS was significantly reduced in mCII707–721–vaccinated mice. (B) Representative sections of spinal cord from a mCII707–721–
vaccinated mouse (left) and control (right). Arrows show demyelinated areas in white matter. Original magnification, ×25. (C) Demyelination was
calculated as mm2 of demyelination per 100 mm2 spinal cord, n = 3 mice per group. Data are median ± SD. **P ≤ 0.01.
research article Download full-text
? The?Journal?of?Clinical?Investigation http://www.jci.org Volume 121 Number 1 January 2011
40 cycles of 95°C for 10 seconds, decreasing by 20°C/s to 60°C, and
60°C for 60 seconds. The melting curve was 20°C/s to 95°C, cooling at
20°C/s to 60°C, and heating at 0.2°C/s to 95°C with fluorescence col-
lection at 0.2°C intervals.
ELISA. ELISAs were performed according to the manufacturers’ instruc-
tions. ELISA kits were used for IL-13 and IgE (BD Biosciences) and IL-4,
IL-5, IFN-γ, TNF-α, and TGF-β1 (R&D Systems).
Purification of NKT cells. Single-cell suspensions were washed and resus-
pended in 2% FCS in PBS with APC-CD4 and PE-NK1.1 for 20 minutes
at 4°C. Cells were washed with 2% FCS in PBS and analyzed or purified
using FACSAria. CD4+ T cells and CD4+NK1.1+ NKT cells were purified
In vitro suppressive assays. Splenocytes from B10.Q mice or a conventional
B10.Q MOG79–96–specific T cell line were activated by culturing on plate-
bound anti-CD3 at 5 μg/ml and used as responder cells by coculturing at a
1:1 ratio with mCII707–721–specific NKT cells. Proliferation was measured by
3H-thymidine incorporation. When splenocytes were responder cells, the
B10.Q MOG79–96–specific cells were used as controls. Blocking antibodies
were added to the NKT cells for 30 minutes before coculture.
A Transwell insert of 0.4 μm (Falcon) was used for separation of mCII707–721–
specific NKT and responder cells. Soluble molecules, but not cells, could
pass through the insert.
For annexin V staining, cells were incubated in binding buffer with 5 μl
of annexin V–PE at room temperature for 5 minutes in the dark and
washed. Positive cells were monitored by FACS. Some experiments used
7AAD instead of annexin V.
Vaccination with mCII707–721, OVA challenge, induction of DTH, CIA, and EAE.
Mice were immunized in the flank with 100 μg mCII707–721 emulsified 1:1
in CFA 10 days prior to disease induction. Control mice were similarly
immunized with mCI707–721 and/or CFA (vehicle).
DTH response. B10.Q mice and CD1d KO mice received an intradermal
injection at the tail base with 100 μg of CII emulsified in CFA (Difco).
At 13 days after immunization, mice received an injection of 20 μg CII
in 0.05 M acetic acid in the outer right ear and just acetic acid in the
outer left ear as a negative control. Additional control groups vaccinated
with mCI707–721 and/or CFA (vehicle) were included when specified. After
48 hours, the DTH response was measured using a Krœplin caliper and
calculated as the difference in swelling (thickness) of the right and left
outer ears. Histopathological evaluation of inflammation in the outer
ears was also performed.
OVA sensitization and BALF. B10.Q and CD1d KO mice received an
intraperitoneal injection on days 0 and 4 with 50 μg OVA with 5 mg alum.
At day 13, mice were challenged with 50 μg of OVA intranasally. Mice were
sacrificed 24 hours later and BALF collected for ELISA.
Induction and evaluation of CIA. Male B10.Q mice, 8–12 weeks of age, were
immunized intradermally at the tail base with 100 μg rat collagen emulsi-
fied in CFA (Difco) and boosted at day 35 with 50 μg rat CII emulsified
in incomplete Freund adjuvant (Difco). Clinical scoring was performed as
described (46). For histopathological and immunohistochemical analyses,
ankle joints were removed on day 31 after collagen immunization (47). For
immunohistochemistry, cryosections were stained with biotinylated anti-
bodies to IFN-γ (Ani8), IL-4 (BVD6-24G2), TNF-α (MP6-XT3), and CD4
(L3T4). ExtrAvidin-peroxidase and diaminobenzidine (50 mg/ml; Saveen
Biotech) were used for detection, with background hematoxylin staining.
For cytokines, 0.1% saponin was used at all steps after fixation. Stained
infiltrating cells were counted in the synovium by randomly selecting
6 areas per section and calculating the mean of positive cells per animal.
Induction and evaluation of EAE. B10.Q mice were immunized for induc-
tion of EAE, as described (37).
For demyelination, the lumbar part of spinal cords from 3–4 mice
per group was collected at day 40 after MOG immunization and fixed
in 4% formaldehyde and then as described (48). Results are the mean
from 4 sections.
Statistics. Statistical evaluation was performed using StatView software.
The Mann-Whitney test was used to analyze differences in clinical scores;
otherwise a Student’s unpaired 2-tailed t test was used.
This work has been supported by grants from the Danish Mul-
tiple Sclerosis Society; a generous grant from the Lundbeck Foun-
dation, Denmark; the Danish Research Council — Medicine; the
Swedish Rheumatism Association; Börje Dahlins Fond; the Swed-
ish Research Council — Medicine; the Swedish Research Council —
Natural Sciences; the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research
(SSF); the Crafoordska Foundation; the G-J Kocks Foundation; the
Åke Wiberg Foundation; the Alfred Österlunds Foundation; the
Tore Nilson Foundation; the Konung Gustaf V:s 80 Årsfond; the
M. Bergvalls Foundation; the Swedish Association of Neurologi-
cally Disabled; Trygg-Hansa; the Bibi and Nils Jensen Foundation;
and the EU-supported project MASTERSWITCH (HEALTH-F2-
2008-223404). This publication reflects only the authors’ views.
The European Community is not liable for any use that may be
made of the information herein.
Received for publication June 9, 2010, and accepted in revised form
October 27, 2010.
Address correspondence to: Shohreh Issazadeh-Navikas, Neu-
roinflammation Unit, Biotech Research and Innovation Centre,
University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Ole Maaløes Vej 5, DK-2200,
Danish Biocenter, Copenhagen N, Denmark. Phone: 45.3532.5649;
Fax: 45.3532.5669; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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