Follicular T helper cells and their potential roles in autoimmune pathology
Leur, K. de
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Follicular T helper (Tfh) cells are essential in the formation of high-affinity antibody producing plasma cells and memory B cells. After antigen encounter naive Tfh cells start to upregulate the chemokine receptor CXCR5. This results in homing of the Tfh cells to lymph node follicles where the Tfh cells specifically localise in germinal centres (GCs). In the GCs the Tfh cells stimulate B cells to differentiate resulting in the production of antibodies. In systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) an increased amount of autoantibodies is seen. Recent studies postulate that an increased amount of autoantibodies can be related to Tfh cells. The exact role of Tfh cells in the production of autoantibodies in SLE remains elusive, but some research papers provide information from which potential roles can be drawn. The essence of these research papers is the increased level of the chemokine ligand CXCL13 in SLE. CXCL13 levels correlate with disease severity. Further knowledge concerning the mechanism of antibody production in SLE could provide new targets for more specific treatments.