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1.  Regulatory iNKT cells lack PLZF expression and control Treg cell and macrophage homeostasis in adipose tissue 
Nature immunology  2014;16(1):85-95.
iNKT cells are CD1d-restricted lipid-sensing innate T cells that express the transcription factor PLZF. iNKT cells accumulate in adipose tissue, where they are anti-inflammatory, but the factors that contribute to their anti-inflammatory nature, and their targets in adipose tissue are unknown. Here we report that adipose tissue iNKT cells have a unique transcriptional program and produce interleukin 2 (IL-2) and IL-10. Unlike other iNKT cells, they lack PLZF, but express the transcription factor E4BP4, which controls their IL-10 production. Adipose iNKT cells are a tissue resident population that induces an anti-inflammatory phenotype in macrophages and, through production of IL-2, controls the number, proliferation and suppressor function of adipose regulatory T (Treg) cells. Thus, adipose tissue iNKT cells are unique regulators of immune homeostasis in this tissue.
PMCID: PMC4343194  PMID: 25436972
2.  Clinical anxiety, cortisol and interleukin-6: Evidence for specificity in emotion–biology relationships 
Brain, behavior, and immunity  2010;24(7):1074-1077.
Anxiety confers increased risk for inflammatory diseases, and elevated inflammatory activity in anxious individuals may contribute to this increased risk. One complication, however, is that anxiety could be associated with inflammatory activity either through a specific anxiety pathway or through a more general negative emotionality pathway. To investigate, we measured levels of the stress hormone cortisol, the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6), and the systemic inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP), as well as depression and neuroticism, in clinically anxious and non-anxious adults. Compared with non-anxious participants, clinically anxious participants exhibited significantly lower levels of morning cortisol and significantly higher levels of IL-6, independent of age, sex, and depressive symptoms. These group differences were robust when controlling for neuroticism. Conversely, the groups had equivalent levels of CRP in all analyses. Results are indicative of anxiety-specific effects on inflammatory activity, and highlight a pathway by which anxiety may increase risk for inflammatory diseases.
PMCID: PMC4361085  PMID: 20227485
Anxiety; Depression; Cortisol; Interleukin-6; Neuroticism
3.  Developing Understanding of the Roles of CD1d-restricted T cell Subsets in Cancer: Reversing Tumor-induced Defects 
Clinical immunology (Orlando, Fla.)  2011;140(2):184-195.
Invariant natural killer T-cells (‘iNKT’) are the best-known CD1d-restricted T-cells, with recently-defined roles in controlling adaptive immunity. CD1d-restricted T-cells can rapidly produce large amounts of Th1 and/or Th2//Treg/Th17-type cytokines, thereby regulating immunity. iNKT can stimulate potent anti-tumor immune responses via production of Th1 cytokines, direct cytotoxicity, and activation of effectors. However, Th2//Treg-type iNKT can inhibit anti-tumor activity. Furthermore, iNKT are decreased and/or reversibly functionally impaired in many advanced cancers. In some cases, CD1d-restricted T-cell cancer defects can be traced to CD1d+ tumor interactions, since hematopoietic, prostate, and some other tumors can express CD1d. Ligand and IL-12 can reverse iNKT defects and therapeutic opportunities exist in correcting such defects alone and in combination. Early stage clinical trials have shown potential for reconstitution of iNKT IFN-gamma responses and evidence of activity in a subset of patients, with rational new approaches to capitalize on this progress ongoing, as will be discussed here.
PMCID: PMC3143311  PMID: 21646050
cytokines; tumor immunity; CD1; CD1d-reactive T cells; iNKT; NKT
4.  The A2aR adenosine receptor controls cytokine production in iNKT cells 
European journal of immunology  2010;40(3):682-687.
The purine nucleoside adenosine is an important anti-inflammatory molecule, inhibiting a variety of immune cells by adenosine receptor-mediated mechanisms. Invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells recognize glycolipids presented on CD1d molecules and produce vigorous amounts of cytokines upon activation, hence regulating immune reactions. The mechanisms polarizing their cytokine pattern are elusive. Previous studies demonstrated that adenosine can suppress IFN-γ production by iNKT cells.
We describe the expression of all four known adenosine receptors A1R, A2aR, A2bR, and A3R, on mouse iNKT cells. We show that IL-4 production in primary mouse iNKT cells and a human iNKT line is efficiently inhibited by A2aR blockade with an inverse relation to IL-4. These data are supported by A2aR-deficient mice, which exhibit largely decreased levels of IL-4, IL-10 and TGF-β concomitantly with an increase of IFN-γ upon α-GalCer administration in vivo. While A2aR inhibits other lymphocyte populations, A2aR is required for the secretion of IL-4 and IL-10 by iNKT cells. These data suggest adenosine:A2aR-mediated mechanisms can control the cytokine secretion pattern of iNKT cells.
PMCID: PMC2967447  PMID: 20039304
NKT cells; Cellular activation; Immune regulation
5.  The Relationship of Omental and Subcutaneous Adipocyte Size to Metabolic Disease in Severe Obesity 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(4):e9997.
Several studies have reported the existence of a subgroup of obese individuals with normal metabolic profiles. It remains unclear what factors are responsible for this phenomenon. We proposed that adipocyte size might be a key factor in the protection of metabolically healthy obese (MHO) individuals from the adverse effects of obesity.
Thirty-five patients undergoing bariatric surgery were classified as MHO (n = 15) or metabolically unhealthy obese (MUO, n = 20) according to cut-off points adapted from the International Diabetes Federation definition of the metabolic syndrome. Median body mass index (BMI) was 48 (range 40–71).
There was a moderate correlation between omental adipocyte size and subcutaneous adipocyte size (r = 0.59, p<0.05). The MHO group had significantly lower mean omental adipocyte size (80.9±10.9 µm) when compared with metabolically unhealthy patients (100.0±7.6 µm, p<0.0001). Mean subcutaneous adipocyte size was similar between the two groups (104.1±8.5 µm versus 107.9±7.1 µm). Omental, but not subcutaneous adipocyte size, correlated with the degree of insulin resistance as measured by HOMA-IR (r = 0.73, p<0.0005), as well as other metabolic parameters including triglyceride/HDL-cholesterol ratio and HbA1c. Twenty-eight patients consented to liver biopsy. Of these, 46% had steatohepatitis and fibrosis. Fifty percent (including all the MHO patients) had steatosis only. Both omental and subcutaneous adipocyte size were significantly associated with the degree of steatosis (r = 0.66, p<0.0001 and r = 0.63, p<0.005 respectively). However, only omental adipocyte size was an independent predictor of the presence or absence of fibrosis.
Metabolically healthy individuals are a distinct subgroup of the severely obese. Both subcutaneous and omental adipocyte size correlated positively with the degree of fatty liver, but only omental adipocyte size was related to metabolic health, and possibly progression from hepatic steatosis to fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC2848665  PMID: 20376319
6.  Natural Killer Cells in Obesity: Impaired Function and Increased Susceptibility to the Effects of Cigarette Smoke 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(1):e8660.
Obese individuals who smoke have a 14 year reduction in life expectancy. Both obesity and smoking are independantly associated with increased risk of malignancy. Natural killer cells (NK) are critical mediators of anti-tumour immunity and are compromised in obese patients and smokers. We examined whether NK cell function was differentially affected by cigarette smoke in obese and lean subjects.
Methodology and Principal Findings
Clinical data and blood were collected from 40 severely obese subjects (BMI>40 kg/m2) and 20 lean healthy subjects. NK cell levels and function were assessed using flow cytometry and cytotoxicity assays. The effect of cigarette smoke on NK cell ability to kill K562 tumour cells was assessed in the presence or absence of the adipokines leptin and adiponectin. NK cell levels were significantly decreased in obese subjects compared to lean controls (7.6 vs 16.6%, p = 0.0008). NK function was also significantly compromised in obese patients (30% +/− 13% vs 42% +/−12%, p = 0.04). Cigarette smoke inhibited NK cell ability to kill tumour cell lines (p<0.0001). NK cells from obese subjects were even more susceptible to the inhibitory effects of smoke compared to lean subjects (33% vs 28%, p = 0.01). Cigarette smoke prevented NK cell activation, as well as perforin and interferon-gamma secretion upon tumour challenge. Adiponectin but not leptin partially reversed the effects of smoke on NK cell function in both obese (p = 0.002) and lean controls (p = 0.01).
Obese subjects have impaired NK cell activity that is more susceptible to the detrimental effects of cigarette smoke compared to lean subjects. This may play a role in the increase of cancer and infection seen in this population. Adiponectin is capable of restoring NK cell activity and may have therapeutic potential for immunity in obese subjects and smokers.
PMCID: PMC2801590  PMID: 20107494

Results 1-6 (6)