Immunology 2017 09 07() doi 10.1111/imm.12834
The minimal requirements for in vitro modeling of the natural CD4(+) T-cell differentiation into T follicular helper (TFH) cells are still under investigation. We co-cultured wild type and TCR-transgenic CD4(+) T-cells from naïve mice with dendritic cells and BCR-transgenic B-cells in the presence of HIV-derived virus-like particles containing matched B- and T-cell epitopes. This co-culturing induced co-expression of TFH-master regulator transcription factor BCL-6 and CXCR5 in up to 10% of the wild type and up to 40% of the TCR-transgenic CD4(+) T-cells. Phenotypic markers, production of IL-21 and isotype switching of the B-cells to IgG1 further indicated a helper function of the induced TFH-cells in vitro. Dendritic cells supported the generation of functional TFH-cells, but were unable to induce them without cognate B-cells. Thus, our study presents a robust experimental system for efficient generation of functionally active TFH-cells in vitro and confirms the importance of cognate B- and T-cell cross-talk for the TFH differentiation process. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.