Induction and function of virus-specific CD4+ T cell responses

Virology. 2011 Mar 15;411(2):216-28. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2010.12.015. Epub 2011 Jan 14.


CD4+ T cells - often referred to as T-helper cells - play a central role in immune defense and pathogenesis. Virus infections and vaccines stimulate and expand populations of antigen-specific CD4+ T cells in mice and in man. These virus-specific CD4+ T cells are extremely important in antiviral protection: deficiencies in CD4+ T cells are associated with virus reactivation, generalized susceptibility to opportunistic infections, and poor vaccine efficacy. As described below, CD4+ T cells influence effector and memory CD8+ T cell responses, humoral immunity, and the antimicrobial activity of macrophages and are involved in recruiting cells to sites of infection. This review summarizes a few key points about the dynamics of the CD4+ T cell response to virus infection, the positive role of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the differentiation of virus-specific CD4+ T cells, and new areas of investigation to improve vaccines against virus infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity*
  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Humoral
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Mice
  • Viral Vaccines / immunology
  • Virus Diseases / immunology
  • Viruses / immunology*


  • Cytokines
  • Viral Vaccines