In a nasal vaccine against influenza, the activation of natural killer T (NKT) cells by intranasal coadministration of α-galactosylceramide (α-GalCer) can potently enhance protective immune responses. The results of this study show that the NKT cell-activated nasal vaccine can induce an effective cross-protection against different strains of influenza virus, including H5 type. To analyze the mechanism of NKT cell activation by this nasal vaccine, we prepared fluorescence-labeled α-GalCer by which we detect a direct interaction between NKT cells and α-GalCer-stored dendritic cells in nasal mucosa-associated tissues. Accordingly, although very few NKT cells exist at mucosa, the nasal vaccination induced a localized increase in NKT cell population, which is partly dependent on CXCL16/CXCR6. Furthermore, we found that NKT cell activation stimulates mucosal IgA production by a mechanism that is dependent on interleukin (IL)-4 production. These results strengthen the basis of nasal vaccination via NKT cell activation, which can induce immune cross-protection.
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