Contribution of NKT cells to the immune response and pathogenesis triggered by respiratory viruses

Emma Rey-Jurado, Karen Bohmwald, Nicolás M.S. Gálvez, Daniela Becerra, Steven A. Porcelli, Leandro J. Carreño, Alexis M. Kalergis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Human respiratory syncytial virus (hRSV) and human metapneumovirus (hMPV) cause acute respiratory tract infections in children worldwide. Natural killer T (NKT) cells are unconventional T lymphocytes, and their TCRs recognize glycolipids bound to the MHC-I-like molecule, CD1d. These cells modulate the inflammatory response in viral infections. Here, we evaluated the contribution of NKT cells in both hRSV and hMPV infections. A significant decrease in the number of neutrophils, eosinophils, and CD103+DCs infiltrating to the lungs, as well as an increased production of IFN-γ, were observed upon hRSV-infection in CD1d-deficient BALB/c mice, as compared to wild-type control mice. However, this effect was not observed in the CD1d-deficient BALB/c group, upon infection with hMPV. Importantly, reduced expression of CD1d in CD11b+ DCs and epithelial cells was found in hRSV -but not hMPV-infected mice. Besides, a reduction in the expression of CD1d in alveolar macrophages of lungs from hRSV- and hMPV-infected mice was found. Such reduction of CD1d expression interfered with NKT cells activation, and consequently IL-2 secretion, as characterized by in vitro experiments for both hRSV and hMPV infections. Furthermore, increased numbers of NKT cells recruited to the lungs in response to hRSV- but not hMPV-infection was detected, resulting in a reduction in the expression of IFN-γ and IL-2 by these cells. In conclusion, both hRSV and hMPV might be differently impairing NKT cells function and contributing to the immune response triggered by these viruses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)580-593
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Human respiratory syncytial virus
  • human metapneumovirus
  • natural killer T cells
  • pulmonary inflammation
  • viral infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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