Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 34001890
Link to DOI – 10.1038/s41467-021-23189-7
Nat Commun 2021 05; 12(1): 2866
Unlike HIV infection, which progresses to AIDS absent suppressive anti-retroviral therapy, nonpathogenic infections in natural hosts, such African green monkeys, are characterized by a lack of gut microbial translocation and robust secondary lymphoid natural killer cell responses resulting in an absence of chronic inflammation and limited SIV dissemination in lymph node B-cell follicles. Here we report, using the pathogenic model of antiretroviral therapy-treated, SIV-infected rhesus macaques that sequential interleukin-21 and interferon alpha therapy generate terminally differentiated blood natural killer cells (NKG2a/clowCD16+) with potent human leukocyte antigen-E-restricted activity in response to SIV envelope peptides. This is in contrast to control macaques, where less differentiated, interferon gamma-producing natural killer cells predominate. The frequency and activity of terminally differentiated NKG2a/clowCD16+ natural killer cells correlates with a reduction of replication-competent SIV in lymph node during antiretroviral therapy and time to viral rebound following analytical treatment interruption. These data demonstrate that African green monkey-like natural killer cell differentiation profiles can be rescued in rhesus macaques to promote viral clearance in tissues.