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Journal of Immunology Research
Volume 2016, Article ID 5767106, 13 pages
Review Article

Follicular Helper T Cells in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: Why Should They Be Considered as Interesting Therapeutic Targets?

CNRS, Immunopathologie et Chimie Thérapeutique/Laboratory of Excellence MEDALIS, Institut de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, 67084 Strasbourg, France

Received 4 May 2016; Revised 6 July 2016; Accepted 17 July 2016

Academic Editor: Takashi MaruYama

Copyright © 2016 Matthieu Sawaf 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.


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by B cell hyperactivity leading to the production of autoantibodies, some of which having a deleterious effect. Reducing autoantibody production thus represents a way of controlling lupus pathogenesis, and a better understanding of the molecular and cellular factors involved in the differentiation of B cells into plasma cells could allow identifying new therapeutic targets. Follicular helper T cells () represent a distinct subset of CD4+ T cells specialized in providing help to B cells. They are required for the formation of germinal centers and the generation of long-lived serological memory and, as such, are suspected to play a central role in SLE. Recent advances in the field of biology have allowed the identification of important molecular factors involved in differentiation, regulation, and function. Interestingly, some of these -related molecules have been described to be dysregulated in lupus patients. In the present review, we give an overview of the aberrant expression and/or function of such key players in lupus, and we highlight their potential as therapeutic targets.