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Scand J Immunol. 2011 Feb;73(2):141-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3083.2010.02484.x.

NK cells and CD1d-restricted NKT cells respond in different ways with divergent kinetics to IL-2 treatment in primary HIV-1 infection.

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  • 1Center for Infectious Medicine, Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska University Hospital Huddinge, Stockholm, Sweden.


Cytokine immunotherapy is being evaluated as adjunct treatment in infectious diseases. The effects on innate and adaptive immunity in vivo are insufficiently known. Here, we investigate whether combination treatment with antiretroviral therapy (ART) and Interleukin-2 (IL-2) of patients with primary HIV-1 infection induces sustained increases in circulating NKT cell and NK cell numbers and effector functions and investigate how changes are coordinated in the two compartments. Patients with primary HIV-1 infection starting ART were analyzed for numbers, phenotype and function of NKT cells, NK cells and dendritic cells (DC) in peripheral blood before, during and after IL-2 treatment. NKT cells expanded during IL-2 treatment as expected from previous studies. However, their response to α-galactosyl ceramide antigen were retained but not boosted. Myeloid DC did not change their numbers or CD1d-expression during treatment. In contrast, the NK cell compartment responded with rapid expansion of the CD56(dim) effector subset and enhanced IFNγ production. Expansions of NKT cells and NK cells retracted back towards baseline values at 12 months after IL-2 treatment ended. In summary, NKT cells and NK cells respond to IL-2 treatment with different kinetics. Effects on cellular function are distinct between the cell types and the effects appear not to be sustained after IL-2 treatment ends. These results improve our understanding of the effects of cytokine immunotherapy on innate cellular immunity in early HIV-1 infection.

© 2011 The Authors. Scandinavian Journal of Immunology © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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