CD4<sup>-</sup>CD8αα subset of CD1d-restricted NKT cells controls T cell expansion
Vα24 invariant (Vα24i) CD1d-restricted NKT cells are widely regarded to have immune regulatory properties. They are known to have a role in preventing autoimmune diseases and are involved in optimally mounted immune responses to pathogens and tumor cells. We were interested in understanding how these cells provide protection in autoimmune diseases. We first observed, using EBV/MHC I tetrameric complexes, that expansion of Ag-specific cells in human PBMCs was reduced when CD1d-restricted NKT cells were concomitantly activated. This was accompanied by an increase in a CD4-CD8αα + subset of Vα24i NKT cells. To delineate if a specific subset of NKT cells was responsible for this effect, we generated different subsets of human CD4- and CD4+ Vα24i NKT clones and demonstrate that a CD4-CD8αα+ subset with highly efficient cytolytic ability was unique among the clones in being able to suppress the proliferation and expansion of activated T cells in vitro. Activated clones were able to kill CD1d-bearing dendritic or target cells. We suggest that one mechanism by which CD1d-restricted NKT cells can exert a regulatory role is by containing the proliferation of activated T cells, possibly through timely lysis of APCs or activated T cells bearing CD1d.