Fighting viral infections and virus-driven tumors with cytotoxic CD4+ T cells

Elena Muraro, Anna Merlo, Debora Martorelli, Michela Cangemi, Silvia Dalla Santa, Riccardo Dolcetti, Antonio Rosato

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


CD4+ T cells have been and are still largely regarded as the orchestrators of immune responses, being able to differentiate into distinct T helper cell populations based on differentiation signals, transcription factor expression, cytokine secretion, and specific functions. Nonetheless, a growing body of evidence indicates that CD4+ T cells can also exert a direct effector activity, which depends on intrinsic cytotoxic properties acquired and carried out along with the evolution of several pathogenic infections. The relevant role of CD4+ T cell lytic features in the control of such infectious conditions also leads to their exploitation as a new immunotherapeutic approach. This review aims at summarizing currently available data about functional and therapeutic relevance of cytotoxic CD4+ T cells in the context of viral infections and virus-driven tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number197
Number of pages20
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Issue numberFEB
Publication statusPublished - Feb 27 2017


  • CD4 T cells
  • Cytotoxicity
  • Immunotherapy
  • Viral infection
  • Virus-driven tumors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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