25 There were no significant
differences in CD161 expression on NKT cells between all four groups. The NKT cells can became activated during a variety of infections and inflammatory responses,26 but HLA-DR expression was not significantly different between study groups. The NKT cells are activated in response to the glycolipid antigen α-GalCer and antigen presentation occurs through CD1d.7 The ELISPOT assay is a sensitive method for detecting and quantifying antigen-reactive cells in a population of lymphocytes with multiple Tanespimycin order specificities.27 To determine the frequency of α-GalCer-reactive cells, we analysed PBMCs in a single-colour ELISPOT assay using the DX-α-GalCer stimulation method.28 Cells secreting IFN-γ and IL-4 were detected from all four groups. Results were expressed in spot-forming units (SFU) per million cells. We demonstrated that, when stimulated with specific antigen α-GalCer, PBMC from co-infected patients showed greater secretion of IFN-γ (median 10 SFU, IQR 3–14) compared with leprosy mono-infected Akt inhibitor patients (median 0 SFU, IQR 0.0–5.5), P < 0.05 (Fig. 3a). No difference in IL-4 secretion by NKT cells was detected between the groups
(Fig. 3b). However, IFN-γ frequencies in co-infected patients were positively correlated with the percentage of CD161+ NKT cells (r = 0.81, P = 0.02) (data not shown). In this study, we demonstrated that patients co-infected with M. leprae and HIV-1 had lower frequencies of NKT cells in
peripheral blood than healthy subjects and HIV-1-mono-infected patients. Although many studies have attributed beneficial anti-pathogen Resveratrol responses to NKT cells, they have also been implicated in detrimental immune responses that lead to immunopathology and disease.8 In HIV-1-infected individuals, the frequency of NKT cells is markedly reduced in peripheral blood compared with uninfected controls,2,29,30 and this loss of NKT cells could lead to autoimmunity or to autoimmune-like conditions. Diminished NKT cell-mediated anti-tumour responses could also contribute to increased incidence of infection-related tumours such as Kaposi sarcoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in AIDS patients.24 In another human retrovirus infection, lower numbers of circulating Vα24+ Vβ11+ NKT cells in individuals infected with human T lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) have been demonstrated.31 Natural killer T cells also participate in host defence against mycobacterial infection. Some groups have described lower numbers of NKT cells in peripheral blood of patients with mycobacterial infections.32,33 There are significantly lower percentages of circulating NKT cells in patients with active pulmonary tuberculosis than in subjects uninfected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis33 and these cells become activated upon infection.32 Activation of NKT cells in M.