CD4+ T helper 2 cells – microbial triggers, differentiation requirements and effector functions

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Over the past 10 years we have made great strides in our understanding of T helper cell differentiation, expansion and effector functions. Within the context of T helper type 2 (Th2) cell development, novel innate-like cells with the capacity to secrete large amounts of interleukin-5 (IL-5), IL-13 and IL-9 as well as IL-4-producing and antigen-processing basophils have (re)-emerged onto the type 2 scene. To what extent these new players influence αβ+ CD4+ Th2 cell differentiation is discussed throughout this appraisal of the current literature. We highlight the unique features of Th2 cell development, highlighting the three necessary signals, T-cell receptor ligation, co-stimulation and cytokine receptor ligation. Finally, putting these into context, microbial and allergenic properties that trigger Th2 cell differentiation and how these influence Th2 effector function are discussed and questioned.

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