Author(s): Chehimi J, Bandyopadhyay S, Prakash K, Perussia B, Hassan NF,
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Abstract Natural killer (NK) cells are a discrete subset of leukocytes, distinct from T and B lymphocytes. NK cells mediate spontaneous non-MHC-restricted killing of a wide variety of target cells without prior sensitization and appear to be involved in initial protection against certain viral infections. Depressed NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity, one of the many immunological defects observed in AIDS patients, may contribute to secondary virus infections. Here we report that clonal and purified polyclonal populations of NK cells, which expressed neither surface CD4 nor CD4 mRNA, were susceptible to infection with various isolates of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). Viral replication was demonstrated by detection of p24 antigen intracellularly and in culture supernatants, by the presence of HIV DNA within infected cells, and by the ability of supernatants derived from HIV-infected NK cells to infect peripheral blood mononuclear cells or CD4+ cell lines. Infection of NK cells was not blocked by anti-CD4 or anti-Fc gamma RIII monoclonal antibodies. NK cells from HIV-infected and uninfected cultures were similar in their ability to lyse three different target cells. Considerable numbers of cells died in HIV-infected NK cell cultures. These results suggest that loss of NK cells in AIDS patients is a direct effect of HIV infection but that reduced NK cell function involves another mechanism. The possibility that NK cells serve as a potential reservoir for HIV-1 must be considered.
This article was published in J Virol
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology