The many face-lifts of CD4 T helper cells

Adv Immunol. 2010;107:139-52. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-381300-8.00005-8.


Recent advances in stem cell research have redefined previous concepts of hematopoietic hierarchy, lineage commitment, and cell fate. The immune system is comprised of several well-defined cell lineages of which many exhibit high levels of plasticity or capacity in changing their phenotype. The CD4 T helper cells provide a peculiar example of apparently defined cell subsets, at times described as lineages, but also highly sensitive to tissue environmental cues that may change their fate. The classical Th1/Th2 CD4 T cell differentiation referred to for many years as the main CD4 T cell fate dichotomy and the later additions of CD4 helper T cell variants, such as T helper 17 (Th17) and induced regulatory T cells (iTreg), have added complexity but also doubts on the accuracy of defining CD4 T cell subsets as fixed T cell lineages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology*
  • Cell Lineage / immunology*
  • Humans
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets* / cytology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets* / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer* / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer* / immunology