Objective: The objective of this study was to analyse the potential role of CD27 in natural killer (NK) cell-mediated control of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in HIV-positive patients.
Design: Frequency of CD27-expressing CD56Bright NK cells was analysed in HIV mono-infected individuals and HIV-positive patients with acute or chronic hepatitis C. Anti-HCV activity of CD27(+) and CD27(−) NK cells was compared.
Methods: NK cell mediated inhibition of HCV replication was analysed using the HUH7 HCV Replicon model. NK cell phenotype and interferon (IFN) secretion was studied by flowcytometry.
Results: High frequency of CD27(+)CD56Bright NK cells is associated with spontaneous clearance of acute hepatitis C in HIV-positive patients. Accordingly, we found CD27(+)CD56Bright NK cells to display strong anti-HCV activity.
Conclusion: Our results underline the important role of NK cells in modulating outcome of HCV infection.