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AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2004 Nov;20(11):1189-95.

Neonatal natural killer cells produce chemokines and suppress HIV replication in vitro.

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Laboratory of Immunoregulation, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20814, USA.


The innate immune system may be critical in the prevention of perinatal HIV infection. Since neonates have limited immunological experience, they may rely more on the ability of the innate immune system to defend against infection than their adult counterparts. To assess the potential of human neonatal natural killer (nNK) cells to suppress HIV infection in a noncytolytic manner, we evaluated their ability to secrete chemokines and inhibit HIV replication in vitro. nNK cells were cocultured with autologous, HIV-infected CD4(+) T cells and their suppressive activity against HIV was compared to nCD8(+) T cells and adult NK cells. We found that nNK cells could suppress HIV replication in autologous CD4(+) T cells infected with a CCR5-utilizing virus, but were unable to suppress replication by a CXCR4-utilizing virus. nNK cell-mediated suppression of HIV replication was comparable to that of nCD8(+) T cells and greater than that of NK cells from adults. Suppression was mediated by soluble factors, and was abrogated by the addition of an excess of anti-CC-chemokine Ab directed at CCR5 ligand chemokines. In contrast, inhibition of HIV replication by autologous nCD8(+) T cells was not fully abrogated with anti-CC-chemokine Abs indicating, as previously reported in HIV-infected adults, that other factors in addition to chemokines play a role in CD8(+) T cell-mediated suppression of HIV replication. Our results show that nNK cells can inhibit HIV replication via a chemokine-mediated mechanism, and support a potential role for the innate immune system in preventing perinatal transmission of HIV in a noncytolytic manner.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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