Mechanisms Underlying Lineage Commitment and Plasticity of Helper CD4+ T Cells

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Science  26 Feb 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5969, pp. 1098-1102
DOI: 10.1126/science.1178334

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CD4+ T cells are critical for host defense but are also major drivers of immune-mediated disease. These T cells specialize to become distinct subsets and produce restricted patterns of cytokines, which are tailored to combat various microbial pathogens. Although classically viewed as distinct lineages, recent work calls into question whether helper CD4+ T cell subsets are more appropriately viewed as terminally differentiated cells or works in progress. Herein, we review recent advances that pertain to this topic and the mechanisms that contribute to helper CD4+ T cell commitment and plasticity. The therapeutic implications of these new findings are also considered.

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