Elimination of the latent HIV reservoir remains the biggest hurdle to achieve HIV cure. In order to specifically eliminate HIV infected cells they must be distinguishable from uninfected cells. CD2 was recently identified as a potential marker enriched in the HIV-1 reservoir on CD4+ T cells, the largest, longest-lived and best-characterized constituent of the HIV reservoir. We previously proposed to repurpose FDA-approved alefacept, a humanized α-CD2 fusion protein, to reduce the HIV reservoir in CD2hi CD4+ memory T cells. Here, we show the first evidence that alefacept can specifically target and reduce CD2hi HIV infected cells in vitro. We explore a variety of natural killer (NK) cells as mediators of antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) including primary NK cells, expanded NK cells as well as the CD16 transduced NK-92 cell line which is currently under study in clinical trials as a treatment for cancer. We demonstrate that CD16.NK-92 has a natural preference to kill CD2hi CD45RA- memory T cells, specifically CD45RA- CD27+ central memory/transitional memory (TCM/TM) subset in both healthy and HIV+ patient samples as well as to reduce HIV DNA from HIV+ samples from donors well controlled on antiretroviral therapy. Lastly, alefacept can combine with CD16.NK-92 to decrease HIV DNA in some patient samples and thus may yield value as part of a strategy toward sustained HIV remission.
Keywords: ADCC; CD16; CD2; FDA; HIV; NK; NK92; alefacept.