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Clin Exp Immunol. 2005 Sep;141(3):526-33.

2B4 expression on natural killer cells increases in HIV-1 infected patients followed prospectively during highly active antiretroviral therapy.

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  • 1Department of Infectious Diseases, Rishospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 infection influences natural killer (NK) cell expression of inhibitory NK receptors and activating natural cytotoxicity receptors. It is unknown whether expression of the co-stimulatory NK cell receptor 2B4 (CD244) on NK cells and CD3+ CD8+ cells are affected by highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), low-level viraemia, proviral-DNA or immune activation in HIV-1 infected patients. A total of 101 HAART-treated HIV-1 infected patients with < or = 200 HIV-RNA copies/ml were followed prospectively for 24 months. HIV-RNA was investigated 3-monthly and 2B4 expression on CD3- CD16+ NK cells and CD3+ CD8+ cells, proviral-DNA and plasma soluble tumour necrosis factor receptor (sTNFr)-II were investigated 6-monthly. For comparison, 2B4 expression was investigated in 20 healthy individuals. The concentration of 2B4+ NK cells was initially reduced in HIV-1 infected patients (P < 0.001) but increased to a normal level during the 24 months' follow-up. The concentration of CD3+ CD8+ 2B4+ cells in HIV-1 infected patients was normal and did not change during follow-up. The relative fluorescence intensity (RFI) of 2B4 increased on both NK cells and CD3+ CD8+ cells during follow-up (both P < 0.001). Higher levels of proviral-DNA carrying cells and plasma sTNFrII were associated with reductions in the concentration of 2B4+ NK cells (all P < 0.05). HIV-RNA had no effect on 2B4 expression on NK cells or CD3+ CD8+ cells. These findings demonstrate that the concentration of 2B4+ NK cells normalizes during long-term HAART in HIV-1 infected patients. The finding that proviral-DNA and sTNFrII were associated negatively with the concentration of 2B4+ NK cells suggests that immune activation in HIV-1 infected patients receiving HAART influences the target cell recognition by NK cells.

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