iNKT cells ‘protect’ against obesity

September 24, 2012

Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have found that Invariant natural killer T-cells (iNKT) play a protective role in guarding against obesity and metabolic syndrome.

NKT cells are a unique subset of immune cells that are known to influence inflammatory responses. They had been thought to be rare in humans.

However, Dr Lydia Lynch, a research fellow in the Department of Hematology/Oncology at BIDMC and the study’s first author, found they were plentiful in human adipose tissue.

“Our previous work had revealed a large population of iNKT cells in fat tissue in both mice and humans,” said Lynch. “Now we have identified them in mice and identified a role for them in the regulation of body weight and the metabolic state, likely by regulating inflammation in adipose tissue.”