Implications for thymus growth in childhood: histogenesis of cortex and medulla
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The increase in autoimmune diseases in recent years has drawn attention back to the thymus, with new approaches to improve and/or restore immune function being investigated. As the primary lymphoid organ responsible for functional T cell development, studies on the pre-/post-natal development of this organ and T lymphocytes in human and other species are of special interest. During our screening studies we observed structures that had not been described or mentioned previously, and named them “epitheliostromal sheaths”. Associated with these unique structures were also small attached lobules (possibly reflecting the maturational stages of thymic lobules), which the authors consider as markers of histogenesis and the growth of the organ during early childhood; these findings are thus presented to researchers in this field. Approximately 1000 sections prepared from infantile thymic tissues of partial biopsy specimens were immunostained and examined. Specimens were taken from ten patients (with informed consent) in the age range of 4–9 years who underwent surgery due to congenital cardiovascular anomalies but were otherwise normal. Digital images of interest were captured to describe them in detail. Determining the immunophenotype of the compartments in these newly developing lobules assisted us greatly in defining compartments and their growth order. In summary, our findings suggest a niche-based thymus growth mechanism during childhood. We presented our findings, hoping to provide additional insight to researchers aiming to restore thymus function in adulthood and improve its immunological functions.
KeywordsEpitheliostromal sheath Histogenesis Immunohistochemistry Thymic epithelial cells Thymus
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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