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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 184574, 14 pages
Review Article

T Helper Subsets, Peripheral Plasticity, and the Acute Phase Protein, α1-Antitrypsin

Department of Clinical Biochemistry & Pharmacology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, 84101 Be’er Sheva, Israel

Received 3 April 2015; Accepted 30 May 2015

Academic Editor: Sylvain Audia

Copyright © 2015 Boris M. Baranovski et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The traditional model of T helper differentiation describes the naïve T cell as choosing one of several subsets upon stimulation and an added reciprocal inhibition aimed at maintaining the chosen subset. However, to date, evidence is mounting to support the presence of subset plasticity. This is, presumably, aimed at fine-tuning adaptive immune responses according to local signals. Reprograming of cell phenotype is made possible by changes in activation of master transcription factors, employing epigenetic modifications that preserve a flexible mode, permitting a shift between activation and silencing of genes. The acute phase response represents an example of peripheral changes that are critical in modulating T cell responses. α1-antitrypsin (AAT) belongs to the acute phase responses and has recently surfaced as a tolerogenic agent in the context of adaptive immune responses. Nonetheless, AAT does not inhibit T cell responses, nor does it shutdown inflammation per se; rather, it appears that AAT targets non-T cell immunocytes towards changing the cytokine environment of T cells, thus promoting a regulatory T cell profile. The present review focuses on this intriguing two-way communication between innate and adaptive entities, a crosstalk that holds important implications on potential therapies for a multitude of immune disorders.