, Volume 62, Issue 4, pp 277-301
Date: 04 Apr 2014

Helper T-Cell Differentiation in Graft-Versus-Host Disease After Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation

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Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT) is an effective therapeutic option for many malignant diseases. However, the efficacy of allo-HSCT is limited by the occurrence of destructive graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Since allogeneic T cells are the driving force in the development of GVHD, their activation, proliferation, and differentiation are key factors to understanding GVHD pathogenesis. This review focuses on one critical aspect: the differentiation and function of helper T (Th) cells in acute GVHD. We first summarize well-established subsets including Th1, Th2, Th17, and T-regulatory cells; their flexibility, plasticity, and epigenetic modification; and newly identified subsets including Th9, Th22, and T follicular helper cells. Next, we extensively discuss preclinical findings of Th-cell lineages in GVHD: the networks of transcription factors involved in differentiation, the cytokine and signaling requirements for development, the reciprocal differentiation features, and the regulation of microRNAs on T-cell differentiation. Finally, we briefly summarize the recent findings on the roles of T-cell subsets in clinical GVHD and ongoing strategies to modify T-cell differentiation for controlling GVHD in patients. We believe further exploration and understanding of the immunobiology of T-cell differentiation in GVHD will expand therapeutic options for the continuing success of allo-HSCT.