Heterogeneity, subsets, and plasticity of T follicular helper cells in allergy Academic Article uri icon

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  • Antibody responses are critical for protection against pathogens. However, diseases such as allergic rhinitis or food allergy result from aberrant production of IgE antibodies against otherwise innocuous environmental antigens. The production of allergen-specific IgE requires interaction between B cells and CD4+ T cells, and a granular understanding of these interactions is required to develop novel therapies for allergic disease. CD4+ T cells are exceptionally heterogeneous in their transcriptional, epigenetic, and proteomic profiles, which poses significant challenges when attempting to define subsets relevant to the study of allergy among a continuum of cells. Defining subsets such as the T follicular helper (TFH) cell cluster provides a shorthand to understand the functions of CD4+ T cells in antibody production and supports mechanistic experimentation for hypothesis-driven discovery. With a focus on allergic disease, this Rostrum article broadly discusses heterogeneity among CD4+ T cells and provides a rationale for subdividing TFH cells into both functional and cytokine-skewed subsets. Further, it highlights the plasticity demonstrated by TFH cells during the primary response and after recall, and it explores the possibility of harnessing this plasticity to reprogram immunity for therapeutic benefit in allergic disease.


  • Grydziuszko, Emily
  • Phelps, Allyssa
  • Bruton, Kelly
  • Jordana, Manel
  • Koenig, Joshua FE

publication date

  • November 2022