, Volume 45, Issue 2-3, pp 173-184
Date: 06 Feb 2009

T helper cytokine patterns: defined subsets, random expression, and external modulation

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Although T cell effector subsets, defined by cytokine patterns, have been recognized for more than 20 years, the functional cytokine expression patterns in vivo are still in considerable doubt, particularly for human T cells. At least three new subsets have been recently identified, but the committed cytokine pattern of a T cell (e.g., Th1 cells produce IL-2, interferon-gamma, and lymphotoxin) may differ from the expression pattern of one cell on one occasion, which may be a subset of its full potential. Recent advances in flow cytometry allowed detailed cytokine patterns of antigen-stimulated cells to be identified directly ex vivo. These patterns are clearly more diverse than the major subsets identified as committed phenotypes. Additional contributions to diversity may include new committed subsets, random expression of only part of the committed pattern, and modification of the expression patterns by cytokines and other mediators.