Impaired CD4⁺ T cell stimulation of NK cell anti-fibrotic activity may contribute to accelerated liver fibrosis progression in HIV/HCV patients.
HIV/HCV co-infection is characterized by a faster progression to liver fibrosis compared to HCV mono-infection. Epidemiologic studies found an association between low CD4(+) T cell counts and advanced stages of liver fibrosis. However, the mechanisms underlying this association remain unclear. CD4(+) T cells critically modulate NK cell activity. Of note, NK cells have been shown to display anti-fibrotic activity via killing of activated hepatic stellate cells (HSC). Thus, we speculated that CD4(+) T cells might modulate fibrosis progression by interacting with NK cells.