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J Immunol. 2009 May 15;182(10):6618-24. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0803876.

Human pregnancy up-regulates Tim-3 in innate immune cells for systemic immunity.

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  • 1Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Wuhan, The People's Republic of China.


Pregnant women have both the local immune tolerance at the maternal-fetal interface and the systemic immune defense against pathogens. To date, regardless of the extensive investigation on the maternal-fetal immune tolerance, the maintenance of systemic immune defense in pregnant women still remains poorly understood. In the present study, we demonstrate that the immunoregulatory molecule T cell Ig and mucin domain (Tim)-3 plays important roles in innate and adaptive immunity of human pregnancy. During pregnancy, Tim-3 is strikingly up-regulated in peripheral blood of pregnant women, most by monocytes but not by T or B cells. The increased IL-4/STAT6 signaling may contribute to such up-regulation of Tim-3. In turn, the increased Tim-3 enhances not only innate immunity but also Th1-associated immune responses of pregnant women against pathogens. In contrast, our clinical data show that abnormal Tim-3 expression level might be connected to the pregnancy loss. In conclusion, our data show in this study that an immune regulatory molecule Tim-3, by virtue of its up-regulation in innate immune cells in pregnant women, enhances both innate and adaptive immune responses. Nevertheless, the abnormality of Tim-3 in pregnant woman may be deleterious to normal pregnancy.

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