Send to

Choose Destination
Immunity. 2008 Jul 18;29(1):138-49. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2008.05.009. Epub 2008 Jul 3.

Generation of T follicular helper cells is mediated by interleukin-21 but independent of T helper 1, 2, or 17 cell lineages.

Author information

Department of Immunology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


After activation, CD4(+) helper T (Th) cells differentiate into distinct effector subsets. Although chemokine (C-X-C motif) receptor 5-expressing T follicular helper (Tfh) cells are important in humoral immunity, their developmental regulation is unclear. Here we show that Tfh cells had a distinct gene expression profile and developed in vivo independently of the Th1 or Th2 cell lineages. Tfh cell generation was regulated by ICOS ligand (ICOSL) expressed on B cells and was dependent on interleukin-21 (IL-21), IL-6, and signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3). However, unlike Th17 cells, differentiation of Tfh cells did not require transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) or Th17-specific orphan nuclear receptors RORalpha and RORgamma in vivo. Finally, naive T cells activated in vitro in the presence of IL-21 but not TGF-beta signaling preferentially acquired Tfh gene expression and promoted germinal-center reactions in vivo. This study thus demonstrates that Tfh is a distinct Th cell lineage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Publication types, MeSH terms, Substances, Secondary source ID, Grant support

Publication types

MeSH terms


Secondary source ID

Grant support

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center