Therapeutic Potential of IL-15 and N-803 in HIV/SIV Infection

Viruses. 2021 Sep 2;13(9):1750. doi: 10.3390/v13091750.


IL-15, a proinflammatory cytokine critical for the generation, maintenance, and homeostasis of T cell responses, is produced naturally in response to HIV/SIV infection, but has also demonstrated therapeutic potential. IL-15 can boost CD4+ and CD8+ T cell and NK cell proliferation, activation, and function. However, IL-15 treatment may cause aberrant immune activation and accelerated disease progression in certain circumstances. Moreover, the relationship between the timing of IL-15 administration and disease progression remains unclear. The IL-15 superagonist N-803 was developed to expand the therapeutic potential of IL-15 by maximizing its tissue distribution and half-life. N-803 has garnered enthusiasm recently as a way to enhance the innate and cellular immune responses to HIV/SIV by improving CD8+ T cell recognition and killing of virus-infected cells and directing immune cells to mucosal sites and lymph nodes, the primary sites of virus replication. N-803 has also been evaluated in "shock and kill" strategies due to its potential to reverse latency (shock) and enhance antiviral immunity (kill). This review examines the current literature about the effects of IL-15 and N-803 on innate and cellular immunity, viral burden, and latency reversal in the context of HIV/SIV, and their therapeutic potential both alone and combined with additional interventions such as antiretroviral therapy (ART) and vaccination.

Keywords: HIV; IL-15; N-803; SIV.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • HIV Infections / immunology
  • HIV Infections / therapy*
  • HIV-1
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-15 / immunology
  • Interleukin-15 / therapeutic use*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Mice
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / immunology
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / therapeutic use*
  • Simian Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / immunology
  • Simian Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / therapy*
  • Simian Immunodeficiency Virus
  • Viral Load
  • Virus Latency
  • Virus Replication


  • ALT-803
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents
  • Interleukin-15
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins