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Viral Immunol. 2011 Oct;24(5):359-68. doi: 10.1089/vim.2011.0025. Epub 2011 Sep 29.

NK cell function and antibodies mediating ADCC in HIV-1-infected viremic and controller patients.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology and Strategic Research Center IRIS, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


Natural killer (NK) cells have been suggested to play a protective role in HIV disease progression. One potent effector mechanism of NK cells is antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) mediated by antiviral antibodies binding to the FcγRIIIa receptor (CD16) on NK cells. We investigated NK cell-mediated ADCC function and the presence of ADCC antibodies in plasma from 20 HIV-1-infected patients and 10 healthy donors. The HIV-positive patients were divided into two groups: six who controlled viremia for at least 8 y without treatment (controllers), and 14 who were persistently viremic and not currently on treatment. Plasma from both patient groups induced NK cell IFN-γ expression and degranulation in response to HIV-1 envelope (Env) gp140-protein-coated cells. Patient antibodies mediating ADCC were largely directed towards the Env V3 loop, as identified by a gp140 protein lacking the V3 loop. Interestingly, in two controllers ADCC-mediating antibodies were more broadly directed to other parts of Env. A high viral load in patients correlated with decreased ADCC-mediated cytolysis of gp140-protein-coated target cells. NK cells from both infected patients and healthy donors degranulated efficiently in the presence of antibody-coated HIV-1-infected Jurkat cells. In conclusion, the character of ADCC-mediating antibodies differed in some controllers compared to viremic patients. NK cell ADCC activity is not compromised in HIV-infected patients.

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