4 December 2000
Chemokines and their receptors have been identified as major regulators controlling the functional organization of secondary lymphoid organs. Here we show that expression of CXC chemokine receptor 5 (CXCR5), a chemokine receptor required for B cell homing to B cell follicles, defines a novel subpopulation of B helper T cells localizing to follicles. In peripheral blood these cells coexpress CD45RO and the T cell homing CC chemokine receptor 7 (CCR7). In secondary lymphoid organs, CD4 +CXCR5 + cells lose expression of CCR7, which allows them to localize to B cell follicles and germinal centers where they express high levels of CD40 ligand (CD40L), a costimulatory molecule required for B cell activation and inducible costimulator (ICOS), a recently identified costimulatory molecule of the CD28 family. Thus, when compared with CD4 +CD45RO +CXCR5 − cells, CD4 +CD45RO +CXCR5 + tonsillar T cells efficiently support the production of immunoglobulin (Ig)A and IgG. In contrast, analysis of the memory response revealed that long-lasting memory cells are found within the CD4 +CD45RO +CXCR5 − population, suggesting that CXCR5 +CD4 cells represent recently activated effector cells. Based on the characteristic localization within secondary lymphoid organs, we suggest to term these cells “follicular B helper T cells” (T FH).