Natural killer T cell dysfunction in CD39-null mice protects against concanavalin A-induced hepatitis

Guido Beldi, Yan Wu, Yara Banz, Michael Nowak, Lindsay Miller, Keiichi Enjyoji, Arvand Haschemi, Gennady G. Yegutkin, Daniel Candinas, Mark Exley, Simon C. Robson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Concanavalin A (Con A)-induced injury is an established natural killer T (NKT) cell-mediated model of inflammation that has been used in studies of immune liver disease. Extracellular nucleotides, such as adenosine triphosphate, are released by Con A-stimulated cells and bind to specific purinergic type 2 receptors to modulate immune activation responses. Levels of extra-cellular nudeotides are in turn closely regulated by ectonudeotidases, such as CD39/NTPDasel. Effects of extracellular nucleotides and CD39 on NKT cell activation and upon hepatic inflammation have been largely unexplored to date. Here, we show that NKT cells express both CD39 and CD73/ecto-5'-nucleotidase and can therefore generate adenosine from extracellular nucleotides, whereas natural killer cells do not express CD73. In vivo, mice null for CD39 are protected from Con A-induced liver injury and show substantively lower senum levels of interleukin-4 and interferon-γ when compared with matched wild-type mice. Numbers of hepatic NKT cells are significantly decreased in CD39 null mice after Con A administration. Hepatic NKT cells express most P2X and P2Y receptors; exceptions include P2X3 and P2Y11. Heightened levels of apoptosis of CD39 null NKT cells in vivo and in vitro appear to be driven by unimpeded activation of the P2X7 receptor. Conclusion: CD39 and CD73 are novel phenotypic markers of NKT cells. Deletion of CD39 modulates nucleotide-mediated cytokine production by, and limits apoptosis of, hepatic NKT cells providing protection against Con A-induced hepatitis. This study illustrates a further role for purinergic signaling in NKT-mediated mechanisms that result in liver immune injury. Copyright © 2008 by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)841-852
    Number of pages11
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2008


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