Interconnected subsets of memory follicular helper T cells have different effector functions

Nat Commun. 2017 Oct 10;8(1):847. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-00843-7.


Follicular helper T cells regulate high-affinity antibody production. Memory follicular helper T cells can be local in draining lymphoid organs and circulate in the blood, but the underlying mechanisms of this subdivision are unresolved. Here we show that both memory follicular helper T subsets sustain B-cell responses after reactivation. Local cells promote more plasma cell differentiation, whereas circulating cells promote more secondary germinal centers. In parallel, local memory B cells are homogeneous and programmed to become plasma cells, whereas circulating memory B cells are able to rediversify. Local memory follicular helper T cells have higher affinity T-cell receptors, which correlates with expression of peptide MHC-II at the surface of local memory B cells only. Blocking T-cell receptor-peptide MHC-II interactions induces the release of local memory follicular helper T cells in the circulating compartment. Our studies show that memory follicular helper T localization is highly intertwined with memory B cells, a finding that has important implications for vaccine design.Tfh cells can differentiate into memory cells. Here the authors describe distinct functional and phenotypic profiles of these memory Tfh cells dependent on their anatomical localization to the lymphoid organs or to the circulation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Immunologic Memory*
  • Lymph Nodes / cytology
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Phenotype
  • Spleen / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / physiology*