Journal of virology 2018 03 28() pii 10.1128/JVI.00235-18
Current efforts towards HIV eradication include approaches to augment immune recognition and elimination of persistently infected cells following latency reversal. Natural killer (NK) cells, the main effectors of the innate immune system, recognize and clear targets using different mechanisms than CD8T cells, offering an alternative or complementary approach for HIV clearance strategies. We assessed the impact of IL-15 treatment on NK cell function and the potential of stimulated NK cells to clear the HIV reservoir. We measured NK cell receptor expression, antibody-dependent cell-dependent cytotoxicity (ADCC), cytotoxicity, IFN-γ production and antiviral activity in autologous HIV replication systems. All NK cell functions were uniformly improved by IL-15, and more importantly, IL-15-treated NK cells were able to clear latently HIV infected cells after exposure to vorinostat, a clinically relevant latency reversing agent. We also demonstrate that NK cells from HIV infected individuals aviremic on antiretroviral therapy can be efficiently stimulated with IL-15. Our work opens a promising line of investigation towards future immunotherapies to clear persistent HIV infection using NK cells.In the search for an HIV cure, strategies to enhance immune function to allow recognition and clearance of HIV infected cells following latency reversal are being evaluated. Natural killer (NK) cells possess characteristics that can be exploited for immunotherapy against persistent HIV infection. We demonstrate that NK cells from HIV-positive donors can be strongly stimulated with IL-15, improving their antiviral and cytotoxic potential, and more importantly, clearing HIV infected cells after latency reversal with a clinically relevant drug. Our results encourage further investigation to design NK cell-based immunotherapies to achieve HIV eradication.