Projects per year
Invariant natural killer T cells (iNKT cells) are lipid-sensing innate T cells that are restricted by the antigen-presenting molecule CD1d and 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, as well as their targets in adipose tissue, are unknown. Here we found that iNKT cells in adipose tissue had a unique transcriptional program and produced interleukin 2 (IL-2) and IL-10. Unlike other iNKT cells, they lacked PLZF but expressed the transcription factor E4BP4, which controlled their IL-10 production. The adipose iNKT cells were a tissue-resident population that induced an anti-inflammatory phenotype in macrophages and, through the production of IL-2, controlled the number, proliferation and suppressor function of regulatory T cells (Treg cells) in adipose tissue. Thus, iNKT cells in adipose tissue are unique regulators of immunological homeostasis in this tissue.