Invariant natural killer T cells balance B cell immunity

Elizabeth A. Leadbetter, Mikael C.I. Karlsson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells mediate rapid immune responses which bridge the gap between innate and adaptive responses to pathogens while also providing key regulation to maintain immune homeostasis. Both types of important iNKT immune responses are mediated through interactions with innate and adaptive B cells. As such, iNKT cells sit at the decision-making fulcrum between regulating inflammatory or autoreactive B cells and supporting protective or regulatory B cell populations. iNKT cells interpret the signals in their environment to set the tone for subsequent adaptive responses, with outcomes ranging from getting licensed to maintain homeostasis as an iNKT regulatory cell (iNKTreg) or being activated to become an iNKT follicular helper (iNKTFH) cell supporting pathogen-specific effector B cells. Here we review iNKT and B cell cooperation across the spectrum of immune outcomes, including during allergy and autoimmune disease, tumor surveillance and immunotherapy, or pathogen defense and vaccine responses. Because of their key role as influencers, iNKT cells provide a valuable target for therapeutic interventions. Understanding the nature of the interactions between iNKT and B cells will enable the development of clinical interventions to strategically target regulatory iNKT and B cell populations or inflammatory ones, depending on the circumstance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-107
Number of pages15
JournalImmunological Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • B cells
  • humoral immunity
  • iNKT
  • invariant natural killer T cells (iNKT)
  • marginal zone B cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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