Although T cell help for B cells was described several decades ago, it was the identification of CXCR5 expression by B follicular helper T (Tfh) cells and the subsequent discovery of their dependence on BCL6 that led to the recognition of Tfh cells as an independent helper subset and accelerated the pace of discovery. More than 20 transcription factors, together with RNA-binding proteins and microRNAs, control the expression of chemotactic receptors and molecules important for the function and homeostasis of Tfh cells. Tfh cells prime B cells to initiate extrafollicular and germinal center antibody responses and are crucial for affinity maturation and maintenance of humoral memory. In addition to the roles that Tfh cells have in antimicrobial defense, in cancer, and as HIV reservoirs, regulation of these cells is critical to prevent autoimmunity. The realization that follicular T cells are heterogeneous, comprising helper and regulatory subsets, has raised questions regarding a possible division of labor in germinal center B cell selection and elimination.
Keywords: B follicular helper T (Tfh) cell; antibody responses; germinal center.