JOURNAL OF SHANGHAI JIAOTONG UNIVERSITY (MEDICAL SCIENCE) ›› 2022, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (2): 218-224.doi: 10.3969/j.issn.1674-8115.2022.02.013

• Review • Previous Articles    

Research progress in roles of follicular helper T cells in autoimmune diseases

Xindi WEI1,2(), Xiaoyin NIU1()   

  1. 1.Shanghai Institute of Immunology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200025, China
    2.College of Stomatology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200125, China
  • Received:2021-09-15 Online:2022-02-28 Published:2022-03-17
  • Contact: Xiaoyin NIU;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(81871269);Scientific Research Project of Shanghai Municipal Health Commission(201640137);Research Based Learning Project of Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine in 2021(2021RBL-B-010);The 15th Undergraduate Training Program for Innovation of Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine(1521Y591)


Follicular helper T cells (Tfh cells) have been defined as a new subset of CD4+ T cells in recent years, mainly expressing surface molecules such as C-X-C motif chemokine receptor type 5, inducible co-stimulator, and secreting cytokine interleukin-21, a key transcription factor of which is B cell lymphoma 6. They exist in the germinal center (GC) of lymphoid tissue and in the peripheral blood as well. With the ability to promote B cell maturation and differentiation, GC formation and antibody production, Tfh cells play important roles in the pathogenesis of many autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and primary Sj?gren's syndrome. The abnormal quantity and/or quality of Tfh cells will cause pathological processes like tissue injury and promote disease progression. This article reviews the biological characteristics of Tfh cells and their roles in different autoimmune diseases, which may help to further reveal the pathogenesis of certain autoimmune diseases and provide a new way to treat these diseases by targeting these cells.

Key words: follicular helper T cell, autoimmune disease, B cell, autoantibody, interleukin-21

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