The Effects of Cytokines on T Cell Differentiation
Amanda Flies, Ph.D.
The T cell is an important member of the adaptive branch of the immune system, with many varied, sometimes overlapping, roles. One mechanism by which the immune system is able to provide a defense against the wide range of pathogens and conditions affecting the body is by differentiation of this key cell type into many distinct lineages and subsets, each with a characteristic profile of effector molecules with distinct functions. The complex nature of immunity to the range of potential pathogens is mirrored by the complexity of T cell lineages and subsets which have evolved to defend against them. The many potential combinations of antigen-stimulation and co-stimulatory molecules, cell-cell interactions, and the cytokine milieu in which T cells are activated all contribute to the cell’s fate, and therefore the cell’s function in the immune system as a whole.