NK Cells in HIV Disease

Eileen Scully, Galit Alter

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Natural killer (NK) cells play a critical role in viral immunity. In the setting of HIV infection, epidemiologic and functional evidence support a role for NK cells in both protection from new infection and in viral control. Specifically, NK cells directly mediate immune pressure leading to virus evolution, and NK cell receptor genotypic profiles, clonal repertoires, and functional capacity have all been implicated in virus containment. In addition, indirect NK cell-mediated antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity has been linked to vaccine-induced protective immunity against HIV infection. With recent advances in our understanding of NK cell deficiency, development, memory-like responses, and editing of the adaptive immune system, the opportunities to direct and exploit NK cell antiviral immunity to target HIV have exponentially grown. In this review, we seek to highlight the intersections between discoveries in basic NK cell biology and the challenges of HIV chronic infection, vaccine development, and cure/eradication strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-94
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent HIV/AIDS reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity
  • HIV
  • HIV pathogenesis
  • Innate immunity
  • NK cell
  • NK cell memory
  • Natural killer (NK)
  • Review
  • Viral immunity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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