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Targeting Tim-3 And PD-1 Pathways To Reverse T Cell Exhaustion And Restore Anti-tumor Immunity

Kaori Sakuishi, Lionel Apetoh, Jenna M. Sullivan, Bruce R. Blazar, Vijay K. Kuchroo, Ana C. Anderson

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The immune response plays an important role in staving off cancer; however, mechanisms of immunosuppression hinder productive anti-tumor immunity. T cell dysfunction or exhaustion in tumor-bearing hosts is one such mechanism. PD-1 has been identified as a marker of exhausted T cells in chronic disease states, and blockade of PD-1–PD-1L interactions has been shown to partially restore T cell function. We have found that T cell immunoglobulin mucin (Tim) 3 is expressed on CD8+ tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) in mice bearing solid tumors. All Tim-3+ TILs coexpress PD-1, and Tim-3+PD-1+ TILs represent the predominant fraction of T cells infiltrating tumors. Tim-3+PD-1+ TILs exhibit the most severe exhausted phenotype as defined by failure to proliferate and produce IL-2, TNF, and IFN-γ. We further find that combined targeting of the Tim-3 and PD-1 pathways is more effective in controlling tumor growth than targeting either pathway alone.