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Leukocyte cell-derived chemotaxin 2 (LECT2) was originally identified for its possible chemotactic activity against human neutrophils in vitro. It is a 16-kDa protein that is preferentially expressed in the liver. Its homologues have been widely identified in many vertebrates. Current evidence suggests that LECT2 may be a multifunctional protein like cytokines. However, the function of LECT2 in vivo remains unclear. To elucidate the role of this protein in vivo, we have generated LECT2-deficient (LECT2(-/-)) mice. We found that the proportion of NKT cells in the liver increased significantly in LECT2(-/-) mice, although those of conventional T cells, NK cells, and other cell types were comparable with those in wild-type mice. Consistent with increased hepatic NKT cell number, the production of IL-4 and IFN-gamma was augmented in LECT2(-/-) mice upon stimulation with alpha-galactosylceramide, which specifically activates Valpha14 NKT cells. In addition, NKT cell-mediated cytotoxic activity against syngeneic thymocytes increased in hepatic mononuclear cells obtained from LECT2(-/-) mice in vitro. Interestingly, the hepatic injury was exacerbated in LECT2(-/-) mice upon treatment with Con A, possibly because of the significantly higher expression of IL-4 and Fas ligand. These results suggest that LECT2 might regulate the homeostasis of NKT cells in the liver and might be involved in the pathogenesis of hepatitis.

Original publication




Journal article


J immunol

Publication Date





579 - 585


Animals, Annexin A5, Concanavalin A, Cytotoxicity, Immunologic, Fas Ligand Protein, Flow Cytometry, Hepatitis, Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins, Killer Cells, Natural, Leukocyte Count, Membrane Glycoproteins, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL