T follicular helper (TFH) cells in normal and dysregulated immune responses

Annu Rev Immunol. 2008;26:741-66. doi: 10.1146/annurev.immunol.26.021607.090344.


T cell help for antibody production is a fundamental aspect of immune responses. Only recently has a better understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms for T cell help emerged. A subset of T cells, termed T follicular helper cells (T(FH) cells), provides a helper function to B cells and represents one of the most numerous and important subsets of effector T cells in lymphoid tissues. T(FH) cells are distinguishable from Th1 and Th2 cells by several criteria, including chemokine receptor expression (CXCR5), location/migration (B cell follicles), and function (B cell help). Central to the function of CD4(+) T cells is IL-21, a "helper" cytokine produced by T(FH) cells that potently stimulates the differentiation of B cells into Ab-forming cells through IL-21R. Consequently, dysregulation of T(FH) cell function, and over- or under-expression of T(FH) cell-associated molecules such as ICOS or IL-21, most likely contributes to the pathogenesis of certain autoimmune diseases or immunodeficiencies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation / immunology*
  • Germinal Center / cytology
  • Germinal Center / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immune System Diseases / immunology*
  • Models, Immunological
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / cytology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / metabolism