Until now, metal allergies have been regarded as a Th1-type immune response. However, because the contribution of a Th2-type immune response has been suggested by clinical findings, we previously examined the Th2-type immune response during the development of metal allergies using a GATA-3 transgenic (GATA-3 Tg) mouse model. As a result, a Th2-type immunization reaction was suggested to be involved in the early phase of metal allergies.Recently, the involvement of NKT cells in metal allergies has been suggested. We examined this possibility using the activation of NKT cells and an NKT cell-deficient mouse model to determine the contribution of NKT cells to nickel allergy in the present study. In NKT cell-deficient mice, ear swelling was remarkably increased, compared with that in control mice. Also, in mice that had been treated with α-galactosylceramide (α-GalCer) to activate NKT cells, the ear swelling response was remarkably inhibited, compared with that in untreated mice. These facts show that NKT cells are involved in the inhibition of nickel allergy-induced ear swelling responses.
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