Tumor-associated immune suppression can lead to defective T cell-mediated antitumor immunity. Here, we identified a unique phenotype of exhausted T cells in mice with advanced acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). This phenotype is characterized by the coexpression of Tim-3 and PD-1 on CD8+ T cells in the liver, the major first site of AML metastases. PD-1 and Tim-3 coexpression increased during AML progression. PD-1+Tim-3+ CD8+ T cells were deficient in their ability to produce IFN-γ, TNF-α, and IL-2 in response to PD-1 ligand (PDL1) and Tim-3 ligand (galectin-9) expressing AML cells. PD-1 knockout (KO), which were partially resistant to AML challenge, up-regulated Tim-3 during AML progression and such Tim-3+PD-1- KO CD8+ T cells had reduced cytokine production. Galectin-9 KO mice were more resistant to AML, which was associated with reduced T-regulatory cell accumulation and a modest induction of PD-1 and Tim-3 expression on CD8+ T cells. Whereas blocking the PD-1/ PDL1 or Tim-3/galectin-9 pathway alone was insufficient to rescue mice from AML lethality, an additive effect was seen in reducing - albeit not eliminating - both tumor burden and lethality when both pathways were blocked. Therefore, combined PD-1/PDL1 and Tim-3/galectin-9 blockade may be beneficial in preventing CD8+ T-cell exhaustion in patients with hematologic malignancies such as advanced AML.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology