Germinal center T cells are distinct helper-inducer T cells

Hum Immunol. 1991 May;31(1):67-75. doi: 10.1016/0198-8859(91)90050-j.


Germinal centers (GCs) contain a significant number of CD4+ T cells, but what role these T cells may play in the development of GC B cells has not been determined. To gain insight into their role, we studied the phenotype of GC T cells and the lymphokines secreted by GC T cells isolated from human tonsils obtained after tonsillectomies. In addition to confirming that a large fraction of GC T cells are Leu-7(CD57)+ and Leu-8-, we found that they have no binding sites for peanut agglutinin. Furthermore, we found that they are CD45RA- and CD45R0+, the phenotype of helper-inducer T cells. We also found that Leu-7(CD57)+ cells display CD69, a phenotypic marker of very early cell activation, but do not display three other markers of cell activation: CD25 [interleukin-2 (IL-2) receptor], CD71 (transferrin receptor), and DR. When isolated, Leu-7(CD57)+ cells were stimulated in vitro with a mitogen that can induce peripheral blood T cells with the helper-inducer phenotype to produce various cytokines, Leu-7(CD57)+ cells did not produce IL-2, interleukin-4 (IL-4), interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) or tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) in significant amounts. Taken together, GC T cells from a distinct subpopulation of T cells with helper-inducer phenotype by their histologic location, by their surface phenotype, and by their ability to produce lymphokines. This finding is consistent with the possibility that GC T cells have been selectively recruited to actively help B cells develop in GCs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD / biosynthesis
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / biosynthesis
  • CD57 Antigens
  • Cells
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • HLA-DR Antigens / biosynthesis
  • Histocompatibility Antigens / biosynthesis
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Interferon-gamma / analysis
  • Interleukin-2 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-4 / metabolism
  • Lectins, C-Type
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens
  • Lymph Nodes / cytology*
  • Palatine Tonsil / immunology
  • Phytohemagglutinins / pharmacology
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2 / biosynthesis
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte
  • CD57 Antigens
  • CD69 antigen
  • HLA-DR Antigens
  • Histocompatibility Antigens
  • Interleukin-2
  • Lectins, C-Type
  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens