Publication Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Academic Program

Immunology and Microbiology


Microbiology and Physiological Systems

First Thesis Advisor

Samuel M. Behar


Tuberculosis, T cell exhaustion, TIM3


Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection is one of the leading causes of mortality worldwide. One third of the population is estimated to be infected, however only 5-10% of those individuals can transmit the disease. While T cell immunity initially limits mycobacterium growth, it is unclear why T cell immunity fails to sterilize the infection and prevent subsequent recrudescence. One hypothesis is T cell exhaustion is mediating the failure of T cell immunity late during infection. Here we show the development of T cell exhaustion during chronic infection, and that the inhibitory receptor T cell-immunoglobulin and mucin domain containing 3 (TIM3) mediates the development of T cell exhaustion. TIM3 accumulates on the surface of T cells throughout the course of infection and there is a subsequent decrease in effector cytokine production, such as IL-2, TNFα, and IFNγ. Furthermore, antibody blockade of TIM3 restores T cell function and improves bacterial control. Our results show that TIM3 is mediating T cell exhaustion during chronic TB infection and leading to suboptimal bacterial control.



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