Activation of natural killer T cells promotes M2 macrophage polarization in adipose tissue and improves systemic glucose tolerance via the IL-4/STAT6 signaling axis in obesity

  • Yewei Ji (Creator)
  • Shengyi Sun (Creator)
  • Aimin Xu (Creator)
  • Liu Yang (Creator)
  • Prerna Bhargava (Creator)
  • Karen S. Lam (Creator)
  • Bin Gao (Creator)
  • Chih-Hao Lee (Creator)
  • Sander Kersten (Creator)
  • Ling Qi (Creator)



Natural killer T (NKT) cells are important therapeutic targets in various disease models and under clinical trials for cancer patients. However, their function in obesity and type 2 diabetes remains unclear. Our data show that adipose tissues of both mice and humans contain a population of type-1 NKT cells, whose abundance decreases with increased adiposity and insulin resistance. Although loss-of-function of NKT cells had no effect on glucose tolerance in animals with prolonged high-fat diet (HFD) feeding, activation of NKT cells by lipid agonist α-galactosylceramide (αGalCer) enhances alternative macrophage polarization in adipose tissue and improves glucose homeostasis in animals at different stages of obesity. Furthermore, the effect of NKT cells is largely mediated by the IL-4/STAT6 signaling axis in obese adipose tissue. Thus, our data identifies a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of obesity-associated inflammation and type-2 diabetes.
Date made available13 Apr 2012
PublisherWageningen University


  • Mus musculus

Accession numbers

  • GSE36032
  • PRJNA151749

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