Expansion of CD3/CD16/CD56 positive NKT cells in HIV/AIDS: the pilot study.
ABSTRACT NKT cells are a subset of lymphocytes possessing features of NK cells and T cells; they play a key role in the formation of innate immune response. Upon stimulation, rapid production of large quantities of both T(h1) and T(h2) type cytokines permits them to bridge the innate and adaptive immune responses by activating NK cells, T cells, B cells and dendritic cells. Scientific knowledge has been collecting up to date toward the definition of the role of NKT lymphocytes in HIV/AIDS setting. This direction in HIV/AIDS immunopathogenesis is relatively new and quite concerning. The objective of this study was to investigate CD3+/CD16+/CD56+ NKT cell expansion in HIV/AIDS patients and explore its association with virologic and immunologic markers of HIV infection. Retrospective analysis of 30 HIV infected patients data, taken from the database of the laboratory of clinical immunology at the Infectious Diseases, AIDS and Clinical Immunology Research Center, was conducted. Results: there was slightly increased risk of higher plasma viral load related to lower NKT cell expansion. With regard to immunologic status, borderline significance between expansion of CD3/CD16/CD56 positive NKT cells and lower CD4 positive cell count was shown. However, study did not show strong associations of NKT cell expansion with either virologic or immunologic status, interestingly, all HIV/TB co infected patients where NKT cell positive, which underlines the possible role of TB in CD3+/CD16+/CD56+ NKT cell expansion phenomena in HIV infected individuals. We think these new findings may serve as prerequisite for future, larger scale research in this direction.