Int Immunol. 2021 Sep 11:dxab070. doi: 10.1093/intimm/dxab070. Online ahead of print.
Mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells are a subset of innate-like T cells that express a semi-invariant T cell receptor and are restricted by the molecule major histocompatibility complex class I-related molecule 1 (MR1). MAIT cells recognize biosynthetic derivatives of the riboflavin synthesis pathway present in microbes. MAIT cells have attracted increased interest related to various immune responses because of their unique features including their abundance in humans, nonpeptidic antigens, and ability to respond to antigenic and non-antigenic stimuli. The numbers of circulating MAIT cells are decreased in many immune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and inflammatory bowel diseases. However, the remaining MAIT cells have an increased cytokine-producing capacity and activated status, which is related to disease activity. Additionally, MAIT cells have been observed at sites of inflammation including the kidneys, synovial fluid and intestinal mucosa. These findings suggest their involvement in the pathogenesis of immune diseases. In this mini-review, we summarize the recent findings of MAIT cells in human immune diseases and animal models, and discuss their role and potential as a therapeutic target.