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Adv Immunol. 2010;107:139-52. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-381300-8.00005-8.

The many face-lifts of CD4 T helper cells.

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La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, La Jolla, California, USA.


Recent advances in stem cell research have redefined previous concepts of hematopoietic hierarchy, lineage commitment, and cell fate. The immune system is comprised of several well-defined cell lineages of which many exhibit high levels of plasticity or capacity in changing their phenotype. The CD4 T helper cells provide a peculiar example of apparently defined cell subsets, at times described as lineages, but also highly sensitive to tissue environmental cues that may change their fate. The classical Th1/Th2 CD4 T cell differentiation referred to for many years as the main CD4 T cell fate dichotomy and the later additions of CD4 helper T cell variants, such as T helper 17 (Th17) and induced regulatory T cells (iTreg), have added complexity but also doubts on the accuracy of defining CD4 T cell subsets as fixed T cell lineages.

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