Adipose tissues are closely connected with the immune system. It has been suggested that metabolic syndromes such as type 2 diabetes, arteriosclerosis and liver steatosis can be attributed to adipose tissue inflammation characterized by macrophage infiltration. To understand a physiological and pathological role of natural killer T (NKT) cells on inflammation in adipose tissue, we characterized a subset of NKT cells in abdominal and subcutaneous adipose tissues in C57BL/6J mice fed normal or high-fat diets. NKT cells comprised a larger portion of lymphocytes in adipose tissues compared with the spleen and peripheral blood, with epididymal adipose tissue having the highest number of NKT cells. Furthermore, some NKT cells in adipose tissues expressed higher levels of CD69 and intracellular interferon-γ, whereas the Vβ repertoires of NKT cells in adipose tissues were similar to other cells. In obese mice fed a high-fat diet, adipose tissue inflammation had little effect on the Vβ repertoire of NKT cells in epididymal adipose tissues. We speculate that the NKT cells in adipose tissues may form an equivalent subset in other tissues and that these subsets are likely to participate in adipose tissue inflammation. Additionally, the high expression level of CD69 and intracellular IFN-γ raises the possibility that NKT cells in adipose tissue may be stimulated by some physiological mechanism.
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