Expression of Inhibitory Receptors TIGIT, TIM-3, and LAG-3 on CD4+ T Cells from Patients with Different Clinical Forms of Chronic Chagas Disease

J Immunol. 2023 Mar 1;210(5):568-579. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.2200436.


T cells are central to the adaptive immune response against Trypanosoma cruzi infection. In chronic Chagas disease (CCD), circulating parasite-specific memory T cells show reduced functionality and increased expression of inhibitory receptors as a result of persistent antigenic stimulation. This phenotype has been linked to progression of cardiac pathology, whereas the presence of polyfunctional T cells shows association with therapeutic success. In this study, we demonstrate that T. cruzi-specific human CD4+ T cells can be identified by their expression of OX40 and CD25 upon in vitro stimulation. We characterized the expression of the inhibitory receptors T cell immunoreceptor with Ig and ITIM domains (TIGIT), T cell Ig and mucin-domain containing-3 (TIM-3), and lymphocyte activation gene 3 (LAG-3) in CD4+ T cells from CCD patients with and without cardiac alterations. Our results show that, independently of their clinical stage, CCD patients present an increased frequency of CD4+ T cells expressing TIGIT in comparison with non-T. cruzi-infected donors. Exposure to parasite Ags increases the expression of TIM-3 in CD4+ T cells from CCD patients, especially in those with cardiac compromise. Upregulation of LAG-3 was also detected in CCD individuals without cardiac manifestations, predominantly within the subpopulation of cells that did not become activated upon stimulation. Further differences were found between groups in the coexpression of these receptors. Blockade of each individual receptor did not affect activation or the production of IFN-γ and IL-10 by CD4+ T cells in response to parasite Ags. Our results suggest a role for TIGIT, TIM-3, and LAG-3 in the modulation of inflammatory phenomena thought to ultimately lead to tissue damage and cardiac pathology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes*
  • Chagas Disease*
  • Hepatitis A Virus Cellular Receptor 2
  • Humans
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor / metabolism
  • Receptors, Immunologic


  • Hepatitis A Virus Cellular Receptor 2
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • TIGIT protein, human
  • HAVCR2 protein, human
  • Lag3 protein, human