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J Leukoc Biol. 2013 Apr;93(4):499-510. doi: 10.1189/jlb.0512261. Epub 2012 Nov 16.

CD4+ T lymphocytes in lung fibrosis: diverse subsets, diverse functions.

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Institute of Experimental and Clinical Research (IREC), Université Catholique de Louvain, Avenue Mounier 52, Brussels, Belgium.


The discovery of several subsets of CD4(+) Th lymphocytes has contributed to refine and to challenge our understanding of the roles of CD4(+) T cells in the pathogenesis of fibrotic lung diseases. Here, we review recent findings, indicating that CD4(+) T subpopulations possess contrasting pro- and antifibrotic activities in human and experimental lung fibrosis. Special attention is given to delineate the activity of the newly discovered CD4(+) T lymphocyte subsets (Tregs, Th22, and Th9) on fibroblast function and matrix deposition through the release of growth factors, cytokines, and eicosanoids. It appears that the function of a CD4(+) T lymphocyte subset or of a cytokine can differ with the disease stage (acute vs. chronic), pulmonary localization (bronchial vs. alveolar), cellular level (epithelial cell vs. fibroblast), or immune environment (inflammatory or immunosuppressive). Integrating our recent understanding of the contrasting functions of T lymphocyte subsets in fibrosis provides new insights and opportunities for improved treatment strategies.

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