Immunological mechanisms elicited at the tumour site by lymphocyte activation gene-3 (LAG-3) versus IL-12: sharing a common Th1 anti-tumour immune pathway

J Pathol. 2005 Jan;205(1):82-91. doi: 10.1002/path.1679.


The experimentally induced TS/A murine mammary carcinoma is poorly immunogenic and mainly infiltrated by antigen-presenting cells (APCs), namely macrophages and immature dendritic cells (DCs). Human (h) and mouse (m) lymphocyte activation gene-3 (LAG-3 or CD233) is a physiological MHC class II ligand and powerful APC activator. A gene transfer approach has revealed its anti-tumour activity in this model: hLAG-3 was more effective than mLAG-3. To obtain a clearer picture of the immunoregulatory mechanisms associated with the rejection dynamics of h- and m-LAG-3 transfectants, immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy analyses of TS/A-hLAG-3, TS/A-mLAG-3, and control TS/A-pc tumours were performed. The immune events elicited by mLAG-3 and m-interleukin (IL)-12 were also compared, since their rejection kinetics were quite similar, and LAG-3 enables IL-12 production by macrophages and DCs. Both the TS/A-h- and, to a lesser extent, the m-LAG-3 rejection areas were characterized by an impressive recruitment of APCs, granulocytes, NK cells, CD4+ T lymphocytes and CD8+ IFNgamma-expressing cells. In both cases, infiltration by APCs was accompanied by strong CD80 and CD86 expression and macrophage nitric oxide (NO) synthase up-regulation. Distinct expression of IL-12 and CXCL9 was also found, especially in the draining lymph nodes. T lymphocytes and CD86-expressing APCs were significantly prevalent in both the TS/A-h- and the m-LAG-3 compared with the TS/A-mIL-12 rejection area. Production of IFNgamma, TNFalpha and IL1beta, and chemokines, namely CXCL5, CXCL9, CXCL10, CXCL11, CCL5, and CCL2, by infiltrating leukocytes and signs of defective neovascularization were detected in tumours expressing h-LAG-3-, m-LAG-3-, and m-IL-12. However, IFNgamma, CCL2, and CCL5 production prevailed in the TS/A-hLAG-3 rejection area. Taken together, these results indicate that LAG-3 expression by engineered tumour cells efficiently promotes intra-tumoural recruitment, activation, and Th1 commitment of APCs, and leads to a wide intra-tumoural influx of non-specific and specific reactive cells, and the release of immunoregulatory and cytotoxic mediators. Many of LAG-3's anti-tumour activities are shared with IL-12.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology
  • Antigens, CD / immunology*
  • Chemokines / biosynthesis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-12 / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation Gene 3 Protein
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / immunology
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / immunology*
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Species Specificity
  • Th1 Cells / immunology*
  • Transfection
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Tumor Escape


  • Antigens, CD
  • Chemokines
  • Interleukin-12
  • Lymphocyte Activation Gene 3 Protein