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Th1-specific cell surface protein Tim-3 regulates macrophage activation and severity of an autoimmune disease

Naturevolume 415pages536541 (2002) | Download Citation



Activation of naive CD4+ T-helper cells results in the development of at least two distinct effector populations, Th1 and Th2 cells1,2,3. Th1 cells produce cytokines (interferon (IFN)-γ, interleukin (IL)-2, tumour-necrosis factor (TNF)-α and lymphotoxin) that are commonly associated with cell-mediated immune responses against intracellular pathogens, delayed-type hypersensitivity reactions4, and induction of organ-specific autoimmune diseases5. Th2 cells produce cytokines (IL-4, IL-10 and IL-13) that are crucial for control of extracellular helminthic infections and promote atopic and allergic diseases4. Although much is known about the functions of these two subsets of T-helper cells, there are few known surface molecules that distinguish between them6. We report here the identification and characterization of a transmembrane protein, Tim-3, which contains an immunoglobulin and a mucin-like domain and is expressed on differentiated Th1 cells. In vivo administration of antibody to Tim-3 enhances the clinical and pathological severity of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a Th1-dependent autoimmune disease, and increases the number and activation level of macrophages. Tim-3 may have an important role in the induction of autoimmune diseases by regulating macrophage activation and/or function.

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We thank L. Nicholson, N. Ruggli, L. Glimcher and H. Cantor for comments on this manuscript; R. Nazareno and E. Howard for technical help and D. Schlesinger for discussions. This work was supported by grants from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, New York, the Swiss National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health (M.D.).

Author information


  1. Department of Neurology, Center for Neurologic Diseases, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, 02115, Massachusetts, USA

    • Laurent Monney
    • , Catherine A. Sabatos
    • , Jason L. Gaglia
    • , Akemi Ryu
    • , Hanspeter Waldner
    • , Edward A. Greenfield
    •  & Vijay K. Kuchroo
  2. Department of Adult Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, 02115, Massachusetts, USA

    • Tatyana Chernova
    • , Edward A. Greenfield
    •  & Gordon J. Freeman
  3. Millennium Pharmaceuticals, 640 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, 02139, Massachusetts, USA

    • Stephen Manning
    •  & Anthony J. Coyle
  4. Palo Alto and Department of Pathology, VA Health Care System, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, 95305, California, USA

    • Raymond A. Sobel


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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Correspondence to Vijay K. Kuchroo.

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