Dev Comp Immunol 2015 Mar 10;49(1):49-58. Epub 2014 Nov 10.
Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, Washington State University, College of Veterinary Medicine, P.O. Box 647040, Pullman, WA 99164-7040, USA. Electronic address:
α-GalCer is a potent immunomodulatory molecule that is presented to NKT cells via the CD1 antigen-presenting system. We hypothesized that when used as an adjuvant α-GalCer would induce protective immune responses against Rhodococcus equi, an important pathogen of young horses. Here we demonstrate that the equine CD1d molecule shares most features found in CD1d from other species and has a suitable lipid-binding groove for presenting glycolipids to NKT cells. However, equine CTL stimulated with α-GalCer failed to kill cells infected with R. equi, and α-GalCer did not increase killing by CTL co-stimulated with R. equi antigen. Likewise, α-GalCer did not induce the lymphoproliferation of equine PBMC or increase the proliferation of R. equi-stimulated cells. Intradermal injection of α-GalCer in horses did not increase the recruitment of lymphocytes or cytokine production. Furthermore, α-GalCer-loaded CD1d tetramers, which have been shown to be broadly cross-reactive, did not bind equine lymphocytes. Altogether, our results demonstrate that in contrast to previously described species, horses are unable to respond to α-GalCer. This raises questions about the capabilities and function of NKT cells and other lipid-specific T lymphocytes in horses.