Shaping of iNKT cells cytotoxic functions during CRC progression
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second leading cause of death for cancer in Italy and the fourth worldwide. Over the last decade several studies have highlighted the fundamental role of the immune system in mediating antitumor responses. iNKT (invariant Natural Killer T) cells are a subset of CD1d restricted T cells recognizing lipid antigens of both endogenous and bacterial origin. These cells can exert a rapid and potent cytotoxic function upon the engagement of innate surface receptors, i.e NKG2D, or through the recognition of antigens in an adaptive fashion. iNKT cells have been shown to be pivotal in tumor immunosurveillance and in mediating antitumor responses through IFNγ and cytotoxic molecules secretion. The proposed project aims at gaining a deeper understanding of the mechanisms leading to the functional activation of iNKT cells in CRC patients and to evaluate the capability of antigens of self or bacterial origin to efficiently enhance iNKT cells anti-tumorigenic activities in vivo.