T follicular helper (Tfh) cells in germinal centers of secondary lymphoid organs are pivotal for B and T cell interactions required for induction of humoral immunity. It has long been debated whether Tfh cells exit from lymph nodes into the blood as circulating Tfh cells. In this issue of the JCI, Vella et al. have taken the bull by the horns and applied considerable technical muscle to answer this question. By analyzing phenotype, transcriptome, epigenetic profile, and T cell receptor clonotype, the authors provide evidence that a subset of cTfh cells do indeed originate in lymph nodes and traffic into the blood via the thoracic duct.
Conceptualized markers for GC Tfh cells in lymph nodes, GC-derived Tfh cells in the thoracic duct, circulating GC-like Tfh cells, and circulating non-GC Tfh cells