Autoimmunity arises when tolerance against self-tissue becomes compromised. The causes that lead to the immune-system misfire still remain unknown. However, there are several theories regarding the risk factors of autoimmunity which include genetic, family history, environmental factors, obesity and many more. Presently, autoimmune diseases have become common. Hence, the search for a compelling treatment have gotten an increased attention among the researchers worldwide.
Traditional treatments for autoimmune diseases mainly reckon to suppress the immunity and to prevent inflammation which often only provide short-term relief. Unlike immunotherapy which provide more enticing outcome that is to prevent clinical manifestations or to halt the development of the disease after it started. Since the day scientists discovered the therapeutic potential of Natural Killer T cells (NKT) against autoimmunity, these lymphocytes have become a target for immunotherapy of autoimmune diseases.
NKT cells function as a bridge between the innate and adaptive immunity as the cells represent unique features from both T and NK cells. The hallmark of NKT cells is their capacity to rapidly produce cytokines once activated. This key property of NKT cells will lead to the transactivation of variety of other immune cell types, which prove that NKT cells able to modulate autoimmune response.
Apart from that, NKT also able to alter the balance of subsequent immune response in order to suppress the growth and activity of autoreactive T cells which is crucial for the control of tissue-specific autoimmune diseases.
Scientists also found that the number and function of NKT cells are disturbed in patients with autoimmune disease and this condition exacerbates the disease, suggesting that NKT cells do take part in suppressing autoimmunity. In this day and age, numerous products of NKT immunotherapy are made available in the market for autoimmune patients and the outcome are very promising. Besides for treatment purposes, immunotherapy can also serve as preventive measures for people with strong family history of autoimmune disease. Now patients with autoimmune disease can live on with a better quality of life.
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1. Van Kaer, L., & Wu, L. (2018). Therapeutic potential of invariant natural killer T cells in autoimmunity. Frontiers in Immunology, 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2018.00519.