HIV-1 infection usually leads to systemic chronic inflammation that is associated with gut microbial translocation. The recently defined group 3 innate lymphoid cells (ILC3s) are critical for maintenance of intestinal barrier function; however, it is not clear whether and how HIV-1 infection influences the function of these cells. In this issue of the JCI, Zhang and colleagues present compelling evidence that the survival and function of ILC3s are dramatically impaired by HIV-1 infection. The authors provide evidence that HIV-1 infection induces persistent activation of plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) and production of type I IFNs, which together increase expression of death receptor CD95 on ILC3s and thereby promote subsequent ILC3 apoptosis. Together, these results identify a mechanism that explains the impaired intestinal barrier function that results from chronic HIV-1 infection and shed light on the role of pDCs in HIV-1 immunopathogenesis and therapy.
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