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Nat Rev Immunol. 2005 Nov;5(11):835-43.

NK cells in HIV infection: paradigm for protection or targets for ambush.

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  • 1Laboratory of Immunoregulation, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Building 31, Room 7A04, 31 Center Drive, MSC 2520, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-2520, USA.

Erratum in

  • Nat Rev Immunol. 2005 Dec;5(12):969.


Natural killer cells are a crucial component of the innate immune response to certain tumours and to various viruses, fungi, parasites and bacteria. HIV has infected more than 60 million people worldwide and has led to more than 23 million deaths. At present, there are approximately 40 million people who are living with HIV infection, and there were 5 million new infections in 2004. As part of the innate immune system, natural killer cells might have an important role in host defence against HIV infection, as well as in the control of HIV replication in vivo. In this regard, it is important to understand how natural killer cells and HIV interact. This Review focuses on the role of natural killer cells in controlling HIV infection and on the impact of HIV and HIV-viraemia-induced immune activation on natural-killer-cell function.

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