Germinal centers (GCs) are confined anatomic regions where rapidly proliferating B cells undergo somatic mutation and selection and eventual differentiation into memory B cells or long-lived plasma cells. GCs are also the origin of malignancy, namely follicular lymphoma (FL), GC B cell-diffuse large B cell lymphoma (GCB-DLBCL), and Burkitt lymphoma (BL). GC B cell lymphomas maintain their GC transcriptional signatures and sustain many features of the GC microenvironment, including CD4+ T follicular helper (Tfh) cells. Tfh cells are essential for the formation and maintenance of GCs, providing critical helper signals such as CD40L. Large-scale sequencing efforts have led to new insights about the tightly regulated selection mechanisms that are commonly targeted during GC B cell lymphomagenesis. For instance, HVEM, a frequently mutated surface molecule in GC-derived lymphomas, engages the inhibitory receptor BTLA on Tfh cells and loss of HVEM leads to exaggerated T cell help. Here, we review current understanding of how Tfh cells contribute to the selection of GC B cells, with a particular emphasis on how Tfh cell signals may contribute to lymphomagenesis. The possibility of targeting Tfh cells for the treatment of GC-derived lymphomas is discussed.
Keywords: BTLA; Germinal center B cell; HVEM; PD-1; PD-L1; T follicular helper cell; immunotherapy; lymphoma.
© 2020 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.