Elevated levels of circulating invariant natural killer cell subsets are skewed toward Th2-like phenotype in children with sickle cell disease

Mohamed Rachid Boulassel*, Abeer Al-Zubaidi, Shoaib Al-Zadjali, Zahra Al-Qarni, Nidaa Al-Naamany, Ahmed Al-Yarabi, Mohamed Elshinawy, Yasser Wali

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells are being considered as potential targets for immunotherapeutic strategies in a variety of conditions including sickle cell disease (SCD). However, relatively little is known about the fate of iNKT cell subsets in children with SCD. Herein, quantitative and qualitative analyses of circulating iNKT cell subsets were carried out in 120 children in steady state and 30 healthy controls. Children with SCD displayed significantly elevated levels of circulating iNKT cell subsets with a preferential polarization toward Th2-like cells. The known SCD modifiers did not influence levels of iNKT cell subsets, except that children carrying the Bantu haplotype exhibited elevated levels of CD4iNKT cells, and to a lesser degree CD8iNKT cells. Collectively, these findings indicate that circulating iNKT cell subsets are significantly increased in children with SCD, and highlight the existence of imbalanced production of cytokines toward Th2-like phenotype, which seems to be associated with genetic polymorphisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108308
JournalClinical Immunology
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Blood
  • Haplotypes
  • iNKT cells
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Subsets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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