Journal of Clinical Immunology

, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 16–23 | Cite as

Alterations in cytotoxic and phenotypic subsets of natural killer cells in acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)

  • Susan Plaeger-Marshall
  • Celsa A. Spina
  • Janis V. Giorgi
  • Ronald Mitsuyasu
  • Peter Wolfe
  • Michael Gottlieb
  • Gildon Beall
Original Articles


Testing of cytotoxic function using a panel of natural killer (NK)-sensitive target cells, including a unique herpes simplex virus-infected Raji-cell target, was performed in conjunction with phenotypic cell analysis by dual-color flow cytometry to characterize the NK system. Subjects included in the study were at risk for or infected with the etiologic agent of the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). A generalized defect in NK function was temporally correlated with disease manifestations, as evidenced by deficient NK lytic function in patients with AIDS and AIDS-related complex (ARC). Healthy at-risk subjects, including those seropositive for HIV, exhibited robust NK-cell function. Phenotypic analysis revealed that normal proportions of the NK-associated CD16+ (Leu11) Leu7 and CD16+(Leu11)Leu7+ lymphocyte subsets were maintained throughout the clinical progression of HIV infection. However, the proportion and numbers of cells of the CD8+(Leu2)Leu7+ subset were increased in AIDS, ARC, and healthy at-risk subjects, including those seronegative for HIV. These results are consistent with a qualitative defect in the NK system in AIDS, perhaps secondary to CD4-cell depletion and a concomitant lack of essential accessory factors. The elevation in CD8+(Leu2)/Leu7+ cells is not solely the result of HIV infection and may be a general response to viruses and/or other antigenic stimulation.

Key words

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome natural killer cells cell phenotype viral infection 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan Plaeger-Marshall
    • 1
  • Celsa A. Spina
    • 1
  • Janis V. Giorgi
    • 2
  • Ronald Mitsuyasu
    • 2
  • Peter Wolfe
    • 2
  • Michael Gottlieb
    • 2
  • Gildon Beall
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Microbiology and ImmunologyUCLA School of MedicineLos Angeles
  2. 2.Department of MedicineUCLA School of MedicineLos Angeles

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