The good, the bad and the ugly - TFH cells in human health and disease

Nat Rev Immunol. 2013 Jun;13(6):412-26. doi: 10.1038/nri3447. Epub 2013 May 17.


Antibody production is an important feature of the vertebrate immune system. Antibodies neutralize and clear pathogens, thereby protecting against infectious diseases. Such humoral immunity has great longevity, often persisting for the host's lifetime. Long-lived humoral immunity depends on help provided by CD4(+) T cells, namely T follicular helper (TFH) cells, which support the differentiation of antigen-specific B cells into memory and plasma cells. TFH cells are stringently regulated, as aberrant TFH cell activity is involved in immunopathologies such as autoimmunity, immunodeficiencies and lymphomas. The elucidation of the mechanisms that regulate TFH cell differentiation, function and fate should highlight targets for novel therapeutics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology
  • Germinal Center / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Humoral / immunology*
  • Lymphoma / immunology*
  • Lymphoma / metabolism
  • Models, Immunological
  • Plasma Cells / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology*