Research ArticleInflammation

Human TH9 Cells Are Skin-Tropic and Have Autocrine and Paracrine Proinflammatory Capacity

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Science Translational Medicine  15 Jan 2014:
Vol. 6, Issue 219, pp. 219ra8
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3007828

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TH9 Cells: Immune Cell Specialists

One of the main strengths of the immune system is its diverse strategies for fighting off infection. There are the stalwart innate cells and more flexible adaptive cells. However, even among these groups are many more specialized subsets, adapted to fight particular foes. Schlapbach et al. describe a subset of proinflammatory human helper T cells—TH9 cells—that may contribute to inflammatory diseases of the skin.

Although TH9 cells had been described in mouse models, little was known about the role of TH9 cells in humans. The authors found that most of these cells were either skin-tropic or skin-resident. These cells produced interleukin-9 but not cytokines common to other T helper cell subsets, and many were specific for Candida albicans, suggesting a protective role against infection. However, these cells were also increased in psoriasis lesions, suggesting that they may contribute to inflammatory disease as well.