The Single-Cell Phenotypic Identity of Human CD8+ and CD4+ T Cells

Jolanda Brummelman, Karolina Pilipow, Enrico Lugli

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


On antigen encounter, naïve CD8+ and CD4+ T cells differentiate into a large number of effector cells that migrate to inflamed tissues to fight infections or tumors. Following elimination of the target, a few cells remain in the long-term, the so-called memory T cells that are capable to reexpand and respond more vigorously on a second encounter with the cognate antigen. While the naïve T cell compartment is fairly homogenous, effector and memory T cells are largely diverse, comprising dozens of subsets with diverse functions, molecular characteristics, and localization in the body. In addition, CD4+ and, to some extent, also CD8+ T cells can differentiate into several effector subsets according to their pattern of cytokine expression, including the T helper 1 (Th1), Th2, and Th17 cells. It has become clear that specific subsets of T cells dominate different types of infections and pathological conditions and have different capacities to infiltrate and reject tumors. Their correct phenotypic identification is therefore of foremost importance for their live purification by magnetic or fluorescence-activated cell sorting and subsequent molecular characterization. Here, we present a comprehensive list of the main T cell subpopulations with a major focus on human cells along with their surface phenotypic properties.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Review of Cell and Molecular Biology
EditorsLorenzo Galluzzi, Nils-Petter Rudqvist
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages62
ISBN (Print)9780128153857
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018

Publication series

NameInternational Review of Cell and Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1937-6448


  • CD4
  • CD8
  • Cytotoxic
  • Exhaustion
  • Helper
  • Memory
  • Naïve
  • Regulatory T cells
  • Single cell
  • T cells
  • Tissue-resident

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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