CD4 T-cell differentiation and inflammatory bowel disease

Trends Mol Med. 2009 May;15(5):199-207. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2009.03.002. Epub 2009 Apr 8.


Differentiation of naïve T cells leads to the generation of T-cell subsets, each possessing distinct cytokine expression profiles for serving different immune functions. Through the activation of separate signaling pathways, this process results in both differentiated helper T (Th) cells, termed Th1, Th2 and Th17, and induced regulatory T cells, which suppress Th cells. These different cells are important for combating infectious diseases and cancers; however, when aberrant, they can be responsible for chronic inflammatory diseases. One such disease is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), in which each T-cell subset can have a role in disease. New studies highlight the importance of the recently identified Th17 subset in IBD. Therapeutics targeting these aberrant Th responses are already under development and hold promise for treating IBD and other chronic inflammatory diseases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Therapy / trends
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / pathology*
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Drug Therapy / trends
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / therapy
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / pathology


  • Cytokines