Research ArticleFibrosis

T follicular helper–like cells contribute to skin fibrosis

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Science Translational Medicine  07 Mar 2018:
Vol. 10, Issue 431, eaaf5307
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaf5307

Scleroderma’s little helpers

Scleroderma, also known as systemic sclerosis, is a devastating disease involving multi-organ fibrosis. Taylor et al. examined immune cells from patients and in the skin of a graft-versus-host disease–based mouse model to elucidate the key players in this disease. They observed that a subset of T follicular helper–like cells expressing inducible costimulator (ICOS) correlated with disease scores. Blocking these cells with anti-ICOS or anti–IL-21, an important T follicular helper cell cytokine, ameliorated disease in the mouse model. Targeting these not-so-helpful T cells could dampen dermal fibrosis and bring relief to scleroderma patients.