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AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2008 Dec;24(12):1485-95. doi: 10.1089/aid.2008.0135.

Short Communication: Natural killer cells and expression of KIR receptors in chronic HIV type 1-infected patients after different strategies of structured therapy interruption.

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  • 1Infectious Diseases Unit, Hospital Clínic, Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi I Sunyer (IDIBAPS), University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.


Few data evaluating the NK cell profile during structured therapy interruption (STI) in chronic HIV-1 infection are available. Changes in NK cell percentages and KIR and NKG2A receptors were analyzed at baseline and after 2 years of follow-up in 121 patients on ART with CD4(+) >450 cells/ml and VL <200 copies/ml randomized in three arms according to the criteria employed to resume ART during STI: virological arm (VA n = 47, VL >30,000 copies/ml or CD4 <350 cells/ml), immunological arm (IA n = 37, CD4< 350 cells/ml), and a control arm (n = 37) in which ART was maintained. After 2 years of follow-up, a decrease in CD3(-)CD56(+) CD16(+) cell percentages in VA and IA patients, but not in CA patients, was observed. Those patients with higher decrease in CD3(-)CD56(+)CD16(+) cells had a higher decrease in CD4(+) cells (r = 0.35, p = 0.001) and higher increase in PVL (r = -0.26, p = 0.02). KIR and NKG2A receptor expression tended to increase in CA and decreased in the other two arms (more in IA than in VA). Patients who displayed a greater decrease in CD4(+) T cells and a greater rise in PVL after 2 years of follow-up had a significantly higher decrease in KIR and NKG2A receptors expressed in CD3(-)CD56(+) cells. Patients who presented the lowest levels of total NK cells and KIR and NKG2A receptor expression after STI showed the poorest virology or immunology outcomes. This finding suggests that STI could decrease the number of NK subsets, which is related to the worst clinical development in these patients.

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