Natural killer cell degranulation capacity predicts early onset of the immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS) in HIV-infected patients with tuberculosis

Blood. 2012 Apr 5;119(14):3315-20. doi: 10.1182/blood-2011-09-377523. Epub 2012 Feb 17.


Immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS) is a common and potentially serious complication occurring in HIV-infected patients being treated for tuberculosis (TB) using combined antiretroviral treatment. A role of adaptive immunity has been suggested in the onset of IRIS, whereas the role of natural killer (NK) cells has not yet been explored. The present study sought to examine the involvement of NK cells in the onset of IRIS in HIV-infected patients with TB and to identify predictive markers of IRIS. A total of 128 HIV-infected patients with TB from the Cambodian Early versus Late Introduction of Antiretroviral Drugs (CAMELIA) trial were enrolled in Cambodia. Thirty-seven of the 128 patients developed IRIS. At inclusion, patients had low CD4 cell counts (27 cells/mm(3)) and high plasma viral load (5.76 and 5.50 log/mL in IRIS and non-IRIS patients, respectively). At baseline, NK-cell degranulation capacity was significantly higher in IRIS patients than in non-IRIS patients (9.6% vs 6.38%, P < .005). At IRIS onset, degranulation capacity did not differ between patients, whereas activating receptor expression was lower in IRIS patients. Patients with degranulation levels > 10.84% had a higher risk of IRIS (P = .002 by log-rank test). Degranulation level at baseline was the most important IRIS predictor (hazard ratio = 4.41; 95% confidence interval, 1.60-12.16). We conclude that NK-degranulation levels identify higher IRIS risk in HIV-infected patients with TB.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / metabolism
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active
  • Cell Degranulation / immunology*
  • Coinfection / immunology
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / complications
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immune Reconstitution Inflammatory Syndrome / complications
  • Immune Reconstitution Inflammatory Syndrome / immunology*
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism
  • Lectins, C-Type / metabolism
  • Male
  • Receptors, Natural Killer Cell / metabolism
  • Tuberculosis / complications
  • Tuberculosis / immunology*


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte
  • CD69 antigen
  • Lectins, C-Type
  • Receptors, Natural Killer Cell
  • Interferon-gamma