Natural killer cell enumeration and function in HIV-infected and high-risk uninfected adolescents

Academic Article


  • This is the first report of natural killer cell enumeration and function in HIV-infected and high-risk uninfected adolescents. We examined the association of demographic characteristics of this cohort with three outcomes: CD16+ cell absolute count, lytic units per peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC), and lytic units per natural killer (NK) cell. We also examined the association of CD4, CD38, and antiretroviral therapy (ART) use with these outcomes in the subset of HIV-infected adolescents. Adolescents participating in an on-going longitudial study (the REACH study) were sampled for CD16+ cell count and NK function. This cross-sectional analysis was performed on 412 subjects with NK cell data available. HIV-positive males had higher numbers of CD3−/CD166+/CD56+ NK cells than HIV-positive females. However, for the HIV-negative subjects, we did not observe a gender-related effect for absolute NK cell numbers. Gender, however, was a significant covariate for the analysis, using lytic units per PBMC as the unit of measurement, with males showing higher values than females. Age was not a predictive covariate for any of the three assessments of NK cell number and function examined. Our observations concerning the HIV-positive individuals indicate that reduced CD4+ T cell counts were associated with decreased circulating CD3−/CD16+/CD56+ NK cells. We also observed an association between elevation of CD8+/CD38+/DR+ lymphocytes and lower NK lytic units per PBMC. The results of our multivariate models indicate that there is a reduced number of NK cells and reduced lytic units per PBMC in patients receiving single or multidrug antiretroviral therapy. There are changes in circulating NK cell number and function in HIV-infected adolescents, in comparison with high-risk HIV-negative adolescents. The data suggest that these changes may occur early in the course of HIV disease but that quantitative changes continue to occur with advancing depletion of the CD4+ T cell pool.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Douglas SD; Durako SJ; Tustin NB; Houser J; Muenz L; Starr SE; Wilson C
  • Start Page

  • 543
  • End Page

  • 552
  • Volume

  • 17
  • Issue

  • 6