Urogenital chlamydial infections continue to increase with over 127 million people affected annually, causing significant economic and public health pressures. While the role of traditional MHCI and II peptide presentation is well defined in chlamydial infections, the role of lipid antigens in immunity remains unclear. Natural killer (NK) T cells are important effector cells that recognize and respond to lipid antigens during infections. Chlamydial infection of antigen-presenting cells facilitates presentation of lipid on the MHCI-like protein, CD1d, which stimulates NKT cells to respond. During urogenital chlamydial infection, wild-type (WT) female mice had significantly greater chlamydial burden than CD1d-/- (NKT-deficient) mice, and had significantly greater incidence and severity of immunopathology in both primary and secondary infections. WT mice had similar vaginal lymphocytic infiltrate, but 59% more oviduct occlusion compared to CD1d-/- mice. Transcriptional array analysis of oviducts day 6 post-infection revealed WT mice had elevated levels of Ifnγ (6-fold), Tnfα (38-fold), Il6 (2.5-fold), Il1β (3-fold) and Il17a (6-fold) mRNA compared to CD1d-/- mice. In infected females, oviduct tissues had an elevated infiltration of CD4+ -invariant NKT (iNKT) cells, however, iNKT-deficient Jα18-/- mice had no significant differences in hydrosalpinx severity or incidence compared to WT controls. Lipid mass spectrometry of surface-cleaved CD1d in infected macrophages revealed an enhancement of presented lipids and cellular sequestration of sphingomyelin. Taken together, these data suggest an immunopathogenic role for non-invariant NKT cells in urogenital chlamydial infections, facilitated by lipid presentation via CD1d via infected antigen-presenting cells.
Read the full article here: Scandinavian Journal of Immunology