Group 3 innate lymphoid cells (ILC3s) have demonstrated roles in promoting antibacterial immunity, maintaining epithelial barrier function, and supporting tissue repair. ILC3 alterations are associated with chronic inflammation and inflammatory disease; however, the characteristics and relevant regulatory mechanisms of this cell population in HIV-1 infection are poorly understood due in part to a lack of a robust model. Here, we determined that functional human ILC3s develop in lymphoid organs of humanized mice and that persistent HIV-1 infection in this model depletes ILC3s, as observed in chronic HIV-1–infected patients. In HIV-1–infected mice, effective antiretroviral therapy reversed the loss of ILC3s. HIV-1–dependent reduction of ILC3s required plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs), IFN-I, and the CD95/FasL pathway, as targeted depletion or blockade of these prevented HIV-1–induced ILC3 depletion in vivo and in vitro, respectively. Finally, we determined that HIV-1 infection induces CD95 expression on ILC3s via a pDC- and IFN-I–dependent mechanism that sensitizes ILC3s to undergo CD95/FasL-mediated apoptosis. We conclude that chronic HIV-1 infection depletes ILC3s through pDC activation, induction of IFN-I, and CD95-mediated apoptosis.
Zheng Zhang, Liang Cheng, Juanjuan Zhao, Guangming Li, Liguo Zhang, Weiwei Chen, Weiming Nie, Natalia J. Reszka-Blanco, Fu-Sheng Wang, Lishan Su