Phenotypic and Functional Characterization of Circulatory, Splenic, and Hepatic NK Cells in Simian Immunodeficiency Virus-Controlling Macaques

J Immunol. 2017 Nov 1;199(9):3202-3211. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1700586. Epub 2017 Sep 25.


NK cells are key components of the immune system because of their rapid response potential and their ability to mediate cytotoxic and immunomodulatory functions. Additionally, NK cells have recently been shown to persist for long periods in vivo and to have the capacity to establish immunologic memory. In the current study, we assessed the phenotype and function of circulatory and tissue-resident NK cells in a unique cohort of SIV-controlling rhesus macaques that maintained low to undetectable levels of viremia in the chronic phase of infection. By contrasting NK responses of these macaques with those observed in SIV-noncontrolling and uninfected macaques, we aimed to identify markers and activities of NK subpopulations associated with disease control. We show in this article that most differences among NK cells of the three groups of macaques were observed in tissue-resident cells. Although SIV infection resulted in NK cell dysfunction, double-negative NK cells and those expressing CXCR3, NKG2D, and IL-18Rα were associated with viremia control, as was Ab-dependent cytotoxic function. Our results suggest several novel targets for therapeutic intervention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / pathology
  • Liver / immunology*
  • Liver / pathology
  • Macaca mulatta
  • NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily K / immunology
  • Receptors, CXCR3 / immunology
  • Simian Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / immunology*
  • Simian Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / pathology
  • Simian Immunodeficiency Virus / immunology*
  • Spleen / immunology*
  • Spleen / pathology
  • Viremia / immunology
  • Viremia / pathology


  • NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily K
  • Receptors, CXCR3