The Source and Distribution of Autonomic Nervous System Nerves and Receptors within the Thymus Gland

  • Karen Bulloch
  • Tricia Radojcic
  • Leslie Tollefson
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (volume 22)


The thymus gland has a rich autonomic nervous system innervation consisting of both cholinergic and adrenergic nerve fibers. Based on retrograde transport studies the ANS cholinergic nerves are derived from nucleus retrofacial, nucleus ambiguus and two distinct regions of the spinal cord (C1–C4). More recent double-labelled retrograde transport studies have revealed distinct innervation patterns for the thymus as opposed to the adjacent tissues. Adrenergic innervation of the thymus originates from the stellate ganglion, superior cervical ganglion, and other small ganglia of the rostal sympathetic chain. Neuropharmacological studies have demonstrated receptive fields for this ANS innervation. Adrenergic and cholinergic receptors have been identified on subsets of T lymphocytes as well as other lymphoid cells. There is evidence that cholinergic and adrenergic agonists and antagonists modulate immune function and may factor into immune cell development. This neuroanatomical and neuropharmacological data offers some of the best evidence for neuroimmune interaction and opens the way to elucidating the role of autonomic circuitry.


Adrenergic Receptor Beta Adrenergic Receptor Cholinergic Receptor Superior Cervical Ganglion Adrenergic Agonist 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen Bulloch
    • 1
  • Tricia Radojcic
  • Leslie Tollefson
  1. 1.Neuroimmune Physiology LaboratoryHelicon FoundationSan DiegoUSA

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