The T cell immunoglobulin mucin 3 (Tim-3) receptor is highly expressed on HIV-1-specific T cells, rendering them partially "exhausted" and unable to contribute to the effective immune mediated control of viral replication. To elucidate novel mechanisms contributing to the HTLV-1 neurological complex and its classic neurological presentation called HAM/TSP (HTLV-1 associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis), we investigated the expression of the Tim-3 receptor on CD8+ T cells from a cohort of HTLV-1 seropositive asymptomatic and symptomatic patients. Patients diagnosed with HAM/TSP down-regulated Tim-3 expression on both CD8+ and CD4+ T cells compared to asymptomatic patients and HTLV-1 seronegative controls. HTLV-1 Tax-specific, HLA-A*02 restricted CD8+ T cells among HAM/TSP individuals expressed markedly lower levels of Tim-3. We observed Tax expressing cells in both Tim-3+ and Tim-3- fractions. Taken together, these data indicate that there is a systematic downregulation of Tim-3 levels on T cells in HTLV-1 infection, sustaining a profoundly highly active population of potentially pathogenic T cells that may allow for the development of HTLV-1 complications.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases