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Distinct gene expression profiles of human type 1 and type 2 T helper cells

Heli Hamalainen13, Hua Zhou23, William Chou2, Hideki Hashizume2, Renu Heller2 and Riitta Lahesmaa1*

Author Affiliations

1 Turku Centre for Biotechnology, University of Turku and Abo Akademi University, FIN-20521 Turku, Finland

2 Roche Bioscience, Inflammatory Diseases Unit, 3401 Hillview Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA

3 These authors contributed equally to this work

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Genome Biology 2001, 2:research0022-research0022.11  doi:10.1186/gb-2001-2-7-research0022

Published: 21 June 2001



The development and activation of CD4+ helper T cell (Th) subsets with distinct patterns of unbalanced production of cytokines play an important part in infectious, allergic and autoimmune diseases. Human neonatal cord blood CD4+ Th cells can be polarized into type 1 or type 2-like effector cells in vitro by culturing them in the presence of interleukin (IL)-12 or IL-4, respectively. We have exploited this experimental system to identify marker genes that are differentially expressed by polarized Th1 and Th2 cells. An oligonucleotide microarray specifically designed to screen for inflammation-related candidate genes was used and the differential expression was further validated with a quantitative real-time RT-PCR method.


In addition to the previously described marker genes of Th cells, we report subtle changes in the expression of several other genes that represent growth factors, receptors and other signaling molecules in polarized Th1 and Th2 cell subsets. Additionally, we describe a novel set of genes as Th1/Th2 differentiation markers for cells activated by anti-CD3 and anti-CD28 antibodies.


This study demonstrates the power of the targeted use of microarrays in combination with quantitative real-time RT-PCR in identifying and validating new marker genes for gene expression studies.