while affinities of 0.1-0.3 |M have been reported for mouse NKT cell receptors (Cantu et al., 2003; Sidobre et al., 2002).
Upon activation thymus-derived NKT cells secrete large quantities of T helper type 1 and T helper type 2 cytokines like IL-2, IFN-y, tumour necrosis factor A and IL-4. The rapidly secreted cytokines are then able to influence 'downstream' immune responses hence acting as intermediates of the innate and adaptive immune response (Nieda et al., 2004). The ability of NKT cells to release both proinflammatory and immunoregulatory cytokines, in addition to their prominent role in tumour immunity, immune surveillance, transplantation and autoimmune diseases has drawn attention to the therapeutic potential of NKT cells (Mercer et al., 2005). Manipulation of the NKT cell response may provide an opportunity to modulate cytokine patterns to achieve a more desired outcome. Paramount to this objective is the information obtained from the combined approach of structural and functional analysis that offers useful insights into the presentation of ligands by CD1d and the subsequent influence on NKT cell recognition.
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