Research ArticleATHEROSCLEROSIS

Cross-talk between iNKT cells and monocytes triggers an atheroprotective immune response in SLE patients with asymptomatic plaque

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Science Immunology  02 Dec 2016:
Vol. 1, Issue 6, eaah4081
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aah4081

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Letting “SLE-P”ing plaques lie

Patients with the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are more likely to develop atherosclerosis than healthy individuals. Smith et al. hypothesized that invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells contribute to this process because of their connection to both immune responses and lipids. They found that iNKT cells from SLE patients with asymptomatic plaque (SLE-P) produced more of the T helper 2 (TH2) cytokine interleukin-4 than those from SLE patients with no plaques. These SLE-P iNKT cells were associated with changes in lipid composition and monocyte skewing to the M2 phenotype. These data suggest that SLE-P iNKT cells may connect changes in lipids and the immune response, contributing to the development of cardiovascular disease in SLE patients.