T-cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain 3 (TIM-3) is an Ig-superfamily member expressed on IFN-γ-secreting Th1 and Tc1 cells and was identified as a negative regulator of immune tolerance. TIM-3 is expressed by a subset of activated CD4(+) T cells, and anti-CD3/anti-CD28 stimulation increases both the level of expression and the number of TIM-3(+) T cells. In mice, TIM-3 is constitutively expressed on natural regulatory T (Treg) cells and has been identified as a regulatory molecule of alloimmunity through its ability to modulate CD4(+) T-cell differentiation. Here, we examined TIM-3 expression on human Treg cells to determine its role in T-cell suppression. In contrast to mice, TIM-3 is not expressed on Treg cells ex vivo but is upregulated after activation. While TIM-3(+) Treg cells with increased gene expression of LAG3, CTLA4, and FOXP3 are highly efficient suppressors of effector T (Teff) cells, TIM-3(-) Treg cells poorly suppressed Th17 cells as compared with their suppression of Th1 cells; this decreased suppression ability was associated with decreased STAT-3 expression and phosphorylation and reduced gene expression of IL10, EBI3, GZMB, PRF1, IL1Rα, and CCR6. Thus, our results suggest that TIM-3 expression on Treg cells identifies a population highly effective in inhibiting pathogenic Th1- and Th17-cell responses.
Keywords: FoxP3; Regulatory T (Treg) cells; TIM-3; Th17.
© 2014 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.