In vivo activation of human NK cells by treatment with an interleukin-15 superagonist potently inhibits acute in vivo HIV-1 infection in humanized mice

Kieran Seay, Candice Church, Jian Hua Zheng, Kathryn Deneroff, Christina Ochsenbauer, John C. Kappes, Bai Liu, Emily K. Jeng, Hing C. Wong, Harris Goldstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Scopus citations


Natural killer (NK) cells with anti-HIV-1 activity may inhibit HIV-1 replication and dissemination during acute HIV-1 infection. We hypothesized that the capacity of NK cells to suppress acute in vivo HIV-1 infection would be augmented by activating them via treatment with an interleukin-15 (IL-15) superagonist, IL-15 bound to soluble IL-15Rα, an approach that potentiates human NK cell-mediated killing of tumor cells. In vitro stimulation of human NK cells with a recombinant IL-15 superagonist significantly induced their expression of the cytotoxic effector molecules granzyme B and perforin; their degranulation upon exposure to K562 cells, as indicated by cell surface expression of CD107a; and their capacity to lyse K562 cells and HIV-1-infected T cells. The impact of IL-15 superagonist-induced activation of human NK cells on acute in vivo HIV-1 infection was investigated by using hu-spl-PBMC-NSG mice, NOD-SCID-IL2rγ-/- (NSG) mice intrasplenically injected with human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) which develop productive in vivo infection after intrasplenic inoculation with HIV-1. IL-15 superagonist treatment potently inhibited acute HIV-1 infection in hu-spl-PBMC-NSG mice even when delayed until 3 days after intrasplenic HIV-1 inoculation. Removal of NK cells from human PBMCs prior to intrasplenic injection into NSG mice completely abrogated IL-15 superagonist-mediated suppression of in vivo HIV-1 infection. Thus, the in vivo activation of NK cells, integral mediators of the innate immune response, by treatment with an IL-15 superagonist increases their anti-HIV activity and enables them to potently suppress acute in vivo HIV-1 infection. These results indicate that in vivo activation of NK cells may represent a new immunotherapeutic approach to suppress acute HIV-1 infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6264-6274
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2015


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology

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