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Nat Rev Immunol. 2009 Nov;9(11):811-6. doi: 10.1038/nri2654. Epub 2009 Oct 7.

The functional plasticity of T cell subsets.

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University of California, San Francisco Diabetes Center and Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco 513 Parnassus Avenue, Box 0540-HSW 1114, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.


In 1986, Robert Coffman and Timothy Mossman first described the division of CD4(+) T cells into functional subsets, termed T helper 1 (T(H)1) and T(H)2, based on cytokine production, and in doing so unwittingly opened a Pandora's box of complexity and controversy. Although the mechanisms that regulate T(H)1 and T(H)2 cells are now well known, recent descriptions of other CD4(+) T cell subsets--such as regulatory T cells, T follicular helper cells, T(H)17, T(H)22 and most recently T(H)9 and T(H)22 cells--have questioned how we think of T cell subsets and what commitment to a functional T cell subset means. Here, Nature Reviews Immunology asks four leaders in the field their thoughts on the functional plasticity of T cell subsets.

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