Home Medizin Entschlüsselung der Geheimnisse der follikulären T-Helferzellen für bessere Behandlungsstrategien

Entschlüsselung der Geheimnisse der follikulären T-Helferzellen für bessere Behandlungsstrategien

von NFI Redaktion

Follicular T-helper cells (Tfh) are essential for strong antibody-mediated responses of our immune system during infections and vaccinations. However, when they go out of control, it can lead to diseases such as autoimmunity, allergies, or cancer. Researchers from the University Hospital Bonn (UKB) and the ImmunoSensation Excellence Cluster at the University of Bonn have investigated the underlying mechanisms of Tfh cell development in a mouse model, unraveling their internal connectivity. They hope to develop new strategies for highly effective vaccines and novel therapies to combat various diseases. The findings have now been published in the prestigious journal Scientific Immunology.

Follicular T-helper cells (Tfh cells) are a specialized subset within the CD4+ T-helper cells in the immune system. Their main function is to support B cells in immune defense. They are essential for the production of highly effective antibodies. Tfh cells play a crucial role in protection and combating infections. „Although Tfh cells were first described over 20 years ago, there is still no reliable protocol for their generation in cell culture,“ describes co-first author Dr. Yinshui Chang, former postdoctoral researcher at the University of Bonn at UKB, the motivation to examine the process more closely in the mouse model.

The transforming growth factor TGF-β is a cytokine. These are a group of proteins that initiate and regulate cell growth and differentiation. The Bonn team led by Prof. Dr. Dirk Baumjohann has now found that this signaling molecule induces a strong protein expression of both the transcription factor Bcl6 and the chemokine receptor CXCR5, which are characteristic of Tfh cells. The latter plays an important role in the specific migration of Tfh cells near B cells.

„We have shown that the Tfh cells induced by TGF-β in cell culture are very similar to those generated in a living organism. They provide crucial help to the B cells.“

– Luisa Bach, Co-first author, Ph.D. student at the University of Bonn at UKB

The transcription factor c-Maf controls the fate of T-helper cells

Using a new method based on the CRISPR gene editing tool, the international team led by the Bonn researchers discovered that the TGF-β induced production of CXCR5 is independent of the transcription factor Bcl6 but requires the transcription factor c-Maf. Although Tfh and Th17 cells partially undergo common developmental stages, c-Maf remarkably acts as a switching factor for the fate of Tfh and Th17 cells. Th17 cells are another specialized type of CD4+ T-helper cells that play a crucial role in bacterial infections and autoimmune diseases.

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