Increased IFN-γ production by NK and CD3+/CD56+ cells in sexually HIV-1-exposed but uninfected individuals

Carlos Julio Montoya, Paula Andrea Velilla, Claire Chougnet, Alan L. Landay, Maria Teresa Rugeles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The mechanisms involved in controlling the establishment of HIV-1 infection are not fully understood. In particular, the role of innate immunity in natural resistance exhibited by individuals who are continuously exposed to HIV-1 but remain seronegative (ESN) has not been thoroughly evaluated. We determined the frequency and function of peripheral blood innate immune cells (plasmacytoid and myeloid dendritic cells, monocytes, NK cells, CD3+/CD56+ cells and invariant NKT cells) in ESN, chronically HIV-1-infected and low-risk HIV-1 seronegative individuals. ESN demonstrated a similar frequency of innate immune cells in comparison to controls and a higher frequency of dendritic cells, NK and invariant NKT cells compared to HIV-1-infected subjects. Incubation of mononuclear cells with stimulatory CpG ODN induced CD86 and CD69 up-regulation to a similar degree on innate cells from the three study groups. CpG ODN-stimulated secretion of cytokines was also similar between ESN and controls, while secretion of IFN-α was significantly decreased in HIV-1+ individuals. Importantly, expression of IFN-γ by PMA/Ionomycin-activated CD56bright NK cells and CD3+/CD56+ cells was significantly higher in ESN when compared with controls. The anti-viral effects of IFN-γ are well established, and so our results suggest that IFN-γ production by innate immune cells might be one of the multiple factors involved in controlling the establishment of sexually transmitted HIV-1 infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-146
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • CD3+/CD56+ cells
  • HIV-1
  • HIV-1-exposed seronegatives
  • IFN-γ
  • Innate immunity
  • Invariant NKT cells
  • NK cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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