[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Natural killer (NK) cells constitutively express high levels of Tim-3, an immunoregulatory molecule recently proposed to be a marker for mature and functional NK cells. Whether HIV-1 infection modulates the expression of Tim-3 on NK cells, or the levels of its ligand Galectin-9 (Gal-9), and how signaling through these molecules affects the NK cell response to HIV-1 remains inadequately understood.
We analyzed Tim-3 and Gal-9 expression in a cohort of 85 individuals with early and chronic HIV-1 infection, and in 13 HIV-1 seronegative control subjects. HIV-1 infection was associated with reduced expression of Tim-3 on NK cells, which was normalized by HAART. Plasma concentrations of Gal-9 were higher in HIV-1-infected individuals than in healthy individuals. Interestingly, Gal-9 expression in immune cells was significantly elevated in early infection, with monocytes and dendritic cells displaying the highest expression levels, which correlated with HIV-1 viral loads. In vitro, Gal-9 triggered Tim-3 downregulation on NK cells as well as NK cell activation.
Our data suggest that high expression levels of Gal-9 during early HIV-1 infection can lead to enhanced NK cell activity, possibly allowing for improved early control of HIV-1. In contrast, persistent Gal-9 production might impair Tim-3 activity and contribute to NK cell dysfunction in chronic HIV-1 infection.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Several studies have highlighted the important role played by murine natural killer (NK) cells in the control of influenza infection. However, human NK cell responses in acute influenza infection, including infection with the 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza virus, are poorly documented. Here, we examined changes in NK cell phenotype and function and plasma cytokine levels associated with influenza infection and vaccination. We show that absolute numbers of peripheral blood NK cells, and particularly those of CD56(bright) NK cells, decreased upon acute influenza infection while this NK cell subset expanded following intramuscular influenza vaccination. NK cells exposed to influenza antigens were activated, with higher proportions of NK cells expressing CD69 in study subjects infected with seasonal influenza strains. Vaccination led to increased levels of CD25+ NK cells, and notably CD56(bright) CD25+ NK cells, whereas decreased amounts of this subset were present in the peripheral blood of influenza infected individuals, and predominantly in study subjects infected with the 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza virus. Finally, acute influenza infection was associated with low plasma concentrations of inflammatory cytokines, including IFN-γ, MIP-1β, IL-2 and IL-15, and high levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokines IL-10 and IL-1ra. Altogether, these data suggest a role for the CD56(bright) NK cell subset in the response to influenza, potentially involving their recruitment to infected tissues and a local production and/or uptake of inflammatory cytokines.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Several studies have highlighted the importance of murine natural killer (NK) cells in the control of influenza virus infection, notably through the natural cytotoxicity receptor NKp46. However, little is known about the involvement of NK cells in human influenza infection. Here, we show that upon in vitro exposure to influenza, NKp46 expression on NK cells decreases, whereas expression of 2B4, an activating receptor that can enhance natural cytotoxicity in synergy with NKp46, is up-regulated. Consistent with these observations, NKp46(dull) and 2B4(bright) NK cells had a higher functional activity in response to influenza than NK cells expressing high levels of NKp46 or low levels of 2B4, respectively. Importantly, we assessed whether the expression of these receptors was also modified in vivo in response to influenza antigens and showed that an increase in 2B4-expressing NK cells and a decrease in NKp46(+) NK cells occurred following intramuscular influenza vaccination. Altogether, our results further suggest that NKp46 may play an important role in the innate immune response to human influenza and reveal that exposure to influenza antigens is associated with a previously unrecognized increase in 2B4 expression that can impact NK cell activity against the virus.