helper T cells

Last reviewed 01/2018

Helper T cells are recognised by being positive for the cluster of differentiation antigen CD4. They may therefore be referred to as CD4+ cells.

Helper T cells, once stimulated by foreign antigen bound to MHC class II complexes, release cytokines which activate macrophages and stimulate B cells to divide, differentiate and produce antibodies.

Helper T cells may be further differentiated according to the cytokines they produce into type 1 helper T cells (Th1) and type 2 helper T cells (Th2). Th3 T cells have also been described.