Janus or Hydra: The Many Faces of T Helper Cells in the Human Tumour Microenvironment

  • Florian GuisierEmail author
  • Mateus Camargo Barros-Filho
  • Leigha D. Rock
  • Megan Strachan-Whaley
  • Erin A. Marshall
  • Graham Dellaire
  • Wan L. Lam
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1224)


CD4+ T helper (TH) cells are key regulators in the tumour immune microenvironment (TIME), mediating the adaptive immunological response towards cancer, mainly through the activation of cytotoxic CD8+ T cells. After antigen recognition and proper co-stimulation, naïve TH cells are activated, undergo clonal expansion, and release cytokines that will define the differentiation of a specific effector TH cell subtype. These different subtypes have different functions, which can mediate both anti- and pro-tumour immunological responses. Here, we present the dual role of TH cells restraining or promoting the tumour, the factors controlling their homing and differentiation in the TIME, their influence on immunotherapy, and their use as prognostic indicators.


Tumour immune microenvironment Neoplasia Effector cells Lineage Differentiation Cytokines Chemokines T helper cells Regulatory T cells T follicular helper cells Dual function Immune evasion Immunotherapy 



This work was supported by grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR FDN-143345 to W.L.L. and PJT-156017 to G.D.) and scholarships from CIHR, Vanier Canada, and the BC Cancer Foundation. F.G. is supported by the Ligue nationale contre le cancer (Paris, France), the Fonds de Recherche en Santé Respiratoire (appel d’offres 2018 emis en commun avec la Fondation du Souffle, Paris, France), ADIR Association and the Foundation Charles Nicolle (Rouen, France). M.C.B.-F. is supported by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP 2015/17707-5 and 2018/06138-8). L.D.R. is supported by the BC Cancer Foundation and the University of British Columbia, Faculty of Dentistry. E.A.M. is supported by CIHR and the UBC, Faculty of Medicine and is a Vanier Canada Graduate scholar. G.D. is a senior scientist of the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute (BHCRI), and M.S.-W. is a trainee in the Cancer Research Training Program of the BHCRI, with funds provided by the QEII Health Sciences Centre Foundation and GIVETOLIVE.

Conflict of interest: The authors have no conflicts to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Florian Guisier
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Mateus Camargo Barros-Filho
    • 1
    • 3
  • Leigha D. Rock
    • 1
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  • Megan Strachan-Whaley
    • 7
  • Erin A. Marshall
    • 1
  • Graham Dellaire
    • 7
    • 8
  • Wan L. Lam
    • 1
    • 8
  1. 1.Department of Integrative OncologyBritish Columbia Cancer Research CentreVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Department of Pneumology, Thoracic Oncology and Intensive Respiratory CareRouen University HospitalRouenFrance
  3. 3.International Research CenterA.C.Camargo Cancer CenterSao PauloBrazil
  4. 4.Department of Oral and Biological Medical Sciences, Faculty of DentistryUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  5. 5.Department of Cancer Control ResearchBritish Columbia Cancer Research CentreVancouverCanada
  6. 6.Faculty of DentistryDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  7. 7.Department of PathologyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  8. 8.Canadian Environmental Exposures in Cancer (CE2C) Network (

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