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J Infect Dis. 2011 Apr 1;203(7):948-59. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiq153.

Reduced Tim-3 expression on human T-lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) Tax-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes in HTLV-I infection.

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  • 1Division of Molecular Pathology, Center for Chronic Viral Diseases, Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Kagoshima University, 8-35-1 Sakuragaoka, Kagoshima, Japan.


T cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain-containing molecule-3 (Tim-3) and programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) are T cell exhaustion molecules. We investigated the expression of Tim-3 and PD-1 in human T-lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) infection. Tim-3 expression, but not PD-1 expression, was reduced on CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells of HTLV-I-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP) patients and HTLV-I carriers as compared with healthy controls. Tim-3 expression was also reduced in HTLV-I Tax-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) as compared with cytomegalovirus-specific CTLs. Tim-3(+), but not PD-1(+), Tax-specific CTLs produced less interferon-γ and exhibited low cytolytic activity. However, we observed no difference in the expression of Tim-3 or cytolytic activity between Tax-specific CTLs of HAM/TSP patients or carriers. Moreover, HTLV-I-infected CD4(+) T cells showed decreased Tim-3 expression. These data suggest that Tim-3 expression is reduced in HTLV-I infection and that a high number of Tim-3(-) HTLV-I-specific CTLs preserves their cytolytic activity, thereby controlling viral replication.

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