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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2015, Article ID 638968, 11 pages
Review Article

Follicular Helper CD4+ T Cells in Human Neuroautoimmune Diseases and Their Animal Models

1Department of Neurology, The First Hospital of Jilin University, Jilin University, Changchun 130021, China
2Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institute, 14186 Stockholm, Sweden

Received 25 December 2014; Accepted 16 February 2015

Academic Editor: Peter Szodoray

Copyright © 2015 Xueli Fan 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.


Follicular helper CD4+ T (TFH) cells play a fundamental role in humoral immunity deriving from their ability to provide help for germinal center (GC) formation, B cell differentiation into plasma cells and memory cells, and antibody production in secondary lymphoid tissues. TFH cells can be identified by a combination of markers, including the chemokine receptor CXCR5, costimulatory molecules ICOS and PD-1, transcription repressor Bcl-6, and cytokine IL-21. It is difficult and impossible to get access to secondary lymphoid tissues in humans, so studies are usually performed with human peripheral blood samples as circulating counterparts of tissue TFH cells. A balance of TFH cell generation and function is critical for protective antibody response, whereas overactivation of TFH cells or overexpression of TFH-associated molecules may result in autoimmune diseases. Emerging data have shown that TFH cells and TFH-associated molecules may be involved in the pathogenesis of neuroautoimmune diseases including multiple sclerosis (MS), neuromyelitis optica (NMO)/neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (NMOSD), and myasthenia gravis (MG). This review summarizes the features of TFH cells, including their development, function, and roles as well as TFH-associated molecules in neuroautoimmune diseases and their animal models.