In vitro Th differentiation protocol

Takashi Sekiya, Akihiko Yoshimura

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

37 Citations (Scopus)


CD4+ T cells play central roles in adaptive immunity, driving appropriate immune responses to invading pathogens of diverse types. Four major CD4+ T cell subsets, Th1, Th2, Th17, and Treg cells are differentiated from naïve CD4+ T cells upon ligation of their T cell receptors with antigens, depending on the cytokines they receive. Th1 cells, which are induced by IL-12 and IFN-γ, mediate host defense against intracellular pathogens by exclusively expressing IFN-γ. Th2 cells, which are induced by IL4, secrete IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13, and protect hosts from helminths. IL-6 plus TGF-β induces Th17 cells, another Th subset identified relatively recently, express IL-17 and play important roles in the eradication of extracellular bacteria and fungi. Treg cells, which play central roles in immune suppression, are composed of either thymus-derived Treg cells (tTreg cells), which are directly developed from CD4-single positive (CD4-SP) cells in the thymus, or peripherally derived Treg cells (pTreg cells), which are induced by TGF-β plus IL-2 from naïve CD4+ T cells. Although the regulated induction of Th cells results in proper eradication of pathogens, their excess activation results in various immune-associated diseases. For example, aberrant activation of Th1 and Th17 has been implicated in autoimmune diseases, excess Th2 activity causes atopic diseases, and impaired function of Treg cells due to abrogation of Foxp3 has been shown to cause fatal inflammatory disorders both in human and in mouse. The methods for in vitro differentiation of each Th subset described above are presented here. We hope these methods will facilitate understanding of differentiation and function of CD4+ T cells and pathogenesis of various inflammatory diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMethods in Molecular Biology
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745


  • Cytokines
  • Helper T cell subsets
  • IL-12
  • IL-23
  • TGF-β

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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