Autologous dendritic cell vaccination against HIV-1 induces changes in natural killer cell phenotype and functionality

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Although natural killer (NK) cells have been studied in connection with dendritic cell (DC)-based vaccination in the field of cancer immunology, their role has barely been addressed in the context of therapeutic vaccination against HIV-1. In this study, we evaluated whether a therapeutic DC-based vaccine consisting of monocyte-derived DCs electroporated with Tat, Rev and Nef encoding mRNA affects NK cell frequency, phenotype and functionality in HIV-1-infected individuals. Although the frequency of total NK cells did not change, we observed a significant increase in cytotoxic NK cells following immunisation. In addition, significant changes in the NK cell phenotype associated with migration and exhaustion were observed together with increased NK cell-mediated killing and (poly)functionality. Our results show that DC-based vaccination has profound effects on NK cells, which highlights the importance of evaluating NK cells in future clinical trials looking at DC-based immunotherapy in the context of HIV-1 infection.

Original languageEnglish
Article number29
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalNPJ vaccines
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank all study participants for their collaboration and Wilfried Cools from the Interfaculty Center Data Processing & Statistics of the VUB—for his advice on statistical analyses. J.L.A. and S.D.A. received funding from Fond Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (FWO-TBM; 140189), Scientific Fund Willy Gepts of the UZ Brussel and a Gillead Fellowship. S.D. is supported by a FWO-SB PhD grant (1S30319N). R.A.G. and C.L. received funding from AIDSfonds (60804).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).

Copyright 2023 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Natural Killer Cells
  • dendritic cell
  • vaccination
  • cancer immunology
  • HIV-1
  • Autologous dendritic cell vaccination

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