Anti-HIV activity mediated by natural killer and CD8+ cells after toll-like receptor 7/8 triggering

PLoS One. 2008 Apr 23;3(4):e1999. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0001999.


We previously found that triggering TLR7/8 either by single stranded HIV RNA or synthetic compounds induced changes in the lymphoid microenvironment unfavorable to HIV. In this study, we used selective TLR7 and 8 agonists to dissect their contribution to the anti-HIV effects. While triggering TLR7 inhibited efficiently HIV replication in lymphoid suspension cells from tonsillar origin, its effect was inconsistent in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). In contrast, triggering TLR8 showed a very prominent and overall very consistent effect in PBMC and tonsillar lymphoid suspension cells. Depletion of dendritic cells (DC), Natural killer cells (NK) and CD8+ T-cells from PBMC resulted in the reversal of TLR8 induced anti-HIV effects. Especially noteworthy, depletion of either NK or CD8+ T-cells alone was only partially effective. We interpret these findings that DC are the initiator of complex changes in the microenvironment that culminates in the anti-HIV active NK and CD8+ effector cells. The near lack of NK and the low number of CD8+ T-cells in tonsillar lymphoid suspension cells may explain the lower TLR8 agonist's anti-HIV effects in that tissue. However, additional cell-type specific differences must exist since the TLR7 agonists had a very strong inhibitory effect in tonsillar lymphoid suspension cells. Separation of effector from the CD4+ target cells did not abolish the anti-HIV effects pointing to the critical role of soluble factors. Triggering TLR7 or 8 were accompanied by major changes in the cytokine milieu; however, it appeared that not a single soluble factor could be assigned for the potent effects. These results delineate the complex effects of triggering TLR7/8 for an efficient antiviral defense. While the ultimate mechanism(s) remains unknown, the potent effects described may have therapeutic value for treating chronic viral diseases. Notably, HIV replication is blocked by TLR triggering before HIV integrates into the host chromosome which would prevent the establishment or maintenance of the latent reservoir.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / virology*
  • Cell Count
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / virology
  • HIV / immunology*
  • HIV / physiology
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / virology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Lymphoid Tissue / immunology
  • Lymphoid Tissue / virology
  • Neutralization Tests
  • Toll-Like Receptor 7 / immunology*
  • Toll-Like Receptor 8 / immunology*
  • Virus Integration
  • Virus Internalization
  • Virus Replication


  • Cytokines
  • Toll-Like Receptor 7
  • Toll-Like Receptor 8