License to kill: When inkt cells are granted the use of lethal cytotoxicity

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Invariant Natural Killer T (iNKT) cells are a non-conventional, innate-like, T cell population that recognize lipid antigens presented by the cluster of differentiation (CD)1d molecule. Although iNKT cells are mostly known for mediating several immune responses due to their massive and diverse cytokine release, these cells also work as effectors in various contexts thanks to their cytotoxic potential. In this Review, we focused on iNKT cell cytotoxicity; we provide an overview of iNKT cell subsets, their activation cues, the mechanisms of iNKT cell cytotoxicity, the specific roles and outcomes of this activity in various contexts, and how iNKT killing functions are currently activated in cancer immunotherapies. Finally, we discuss the future perspectives for the better understanding and potential uses of iNKT cell killing functions in tumor immunosurveillance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3909
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2020


  • Cancer
  • CD1d
  • Cytotoxicity
  • Infections
  • INKT

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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