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AIDS. 2003 Mar 7;17(4):487-94.

Inability of natural killer cells to destroy autologous HIV-infected T lymphocytes.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of New York, Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York 13210, USA.



Determine whether natural killer (NK) cells are capable of killing HIV-infected autologous primary T-cell blasts.


The ability of NK cells to kill HIV-infected primary T-cell blasts, whose cell surface major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules was decreased, was evaluated in a lytic assay.


Phytohemagglutinin-treated CD4+ T cells were infected with HIV-1. Infected cells were separated from uninfected cells by removal of CD4+ T cells. The NK cells were isolated from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of the same donor as the CD4+ T cells by immunomagnetic bead separation. The NK cells isolated from PBMC were then used as effector cells and the HIV-infected T-cell blasts were used as target cells in a lytic assay.


It was demonstrated that HIV infection of primary CD4+ T cells results in a 61-68% reduction in surface expression of MHC class I molecules. Despite the decreased MHC class I expression the NK cells were incapable of lysing autologous HIV-infected T-cell blasts, yet were effective in the lysis of the NK cell sensitive cell line, K562. The inability of NK cells to lyse HIV-infected T-cell blasts is not dependent on the strain of HIV used to infected the CD4+ T cell


These studies indicate that despite drastic decreases in MHC class I molecule expression, HIV-infected T-cell blasts can evade destruction by autologous NK cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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