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AIDS. 2012 Sep 24;26(15):1869-78.

Impact of protective killer inhibitory receptor/human leukocyte antigen genotypes on natural killer cell and T-cell function in HIV-1-infected controllers.

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HIV Immunopathogenesis Laboratory, The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.



Both protective T-cell genotypes and natural killer (NK) cell genotypes have been associated with delayed progression to AIDS and shown to be co-inherited in HIV-1-infected individuals who limit viral replication in absence of antiretroviral therapy ('controllers'). However, a comparative analysis of the genotype and function of the innate and adaptive immune compartments in HIV-1-infected controller individuals has been understudied to date.


Here, we simultaneously tested NK and T-cell function in controllers to investigate the mechanism(s) that might account for host immune control over viral replication.


We measured CD8 T-cell responses against HIV-1 utilizing overlapping 15-mer peptides spanning the HIV-1 consensus clade B Gag protein and tested NK cell degranulation and cytokine secretion against tumor target cells following interferon-α (IFNα) stimulation.


Among a cohort of 37 controllers, the presence of protective major histocompatibility complex class I human leukocyte antigen (HLA) alleles (such as HLA-B*57) was not correlated with HIV-specific CD8 responses. In contrast, the inheritance of a protective killer inhibitory receptor KIR3DL1*h/*y receptor genotype along with the corresponding HLA-Bw4*80I ligand was associated with significantly heightened target cell-induced NK degranulation and cytokine secretion following IFNα stimulation (P = 0.0201, n = 13). Interestingly, we observed a significant inverse association between the IFNα stimulated NK response to K562 cells and the HIV-specific CD8 T-cell response to Gag among elite controllers (rho = -0.8321, P = 0.0010, n = 12).


Together, these results suggest that heightened NK responses can be evidenced independently of HIV-specific T-cell responses in HIV-1-infected elite controllers.

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