Expanding roles for CD4⁺ T cells in immunity to viruses

Nat Rev Immunol. 2012 Jan 20;12(2):136-48. doi: 10.1038/nri3152.


Viral pathogens often induce strong effector CD4(+) T cell responses that are best known for their ability to help B cell and CD8(+) T cell responses. However, recent studies have uncovered additional roles for CD4(+) T cells, some of which are independent of other lymphocytes, and have described previously unappreciated functions for memory CD4(+) T cells in immunity to viruses. Here, we review the full range of antiviral functions of CD4(+) T cells, discussing the activities of these cells in helping other lymphocytes and in inducing innate immune responses, as well as their direct antiviral roles. We suggest that all of these functions of CD4(+) T cells are integrated to provide highly effective immune protection against viral pathogens.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology*
  • Immunologic Memory / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • Models, Immunological
  • Virus Diseases / immunology*
  • Virus Diseases / virology
  • Viruses / immunology*