Advances in Clinical and Experimental Medicine

Adv Clin Exp Med
Impact Factor (IF) – 1.227
Index Copernicus (ICV 2018) – 157.72
MNiSW – 40
Average rejection rate – 84.38%
ISSN 1899–5276 (print)
ISSN 2451-2680 (online)
Periodicity – monthly

Download PDF

Advances in Clinical and Experimental Medicine

2016, vol. 25, nr 2, March-April, p. 369–375

doi: 10.17219/acem/58802

Publication type: review article

Language: English

Download citation:

  • BIBTEX (JabRef, Mendeley)
  • RIS (Papers, Reference Manager, RefWorks, Zotero)

Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 Open Access

The Thymus: A Forgotten, But Very Important Organ

Zygmunt Zdrojewicz1,A,F, Ewelina Pachura2,B,C, Paulina Pachura2,D,E

1 Department and Clinic of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Isotope Therapy, Wroclaw Medical University, Poland

2 Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences, Regional Specialist Hospital, Wrocław, Poland

Abstract

Medical science seems to be on the threshold of a revolution: It seems possible that in twenty years, doctors will be able to replace organs in the human body like parts in a car. This is thanks to the recent achievement of a team from the Medical Research Council Center for Regenerative Medicine in Edinburgh, Scotland – the group of researchers tried to regenerate the thymus gland in mice. The thymus gland is an essential organ for the development of the immune system, but very few people have any idea that it exists. In the literature and also in people’s awareness, the fact is often that the thymus controls and harmonizes the entire immune system and the immune functioning of the organism. It is the primary donor of cells for the lymphatic system, much as bone marrow is the cell donor for the cardiovascular system. It is within the thymus that progenitor cells are created and then undergo maturation and differentiation into mature T cells. The thymus gland is located in the mediastinum, behind the sternum. It is composed of two identical lobes. Each lobe is divided into a central medulla and a peripheral cortex. The thymus is at its largest and most active during the neonatal and pre-adolescent periods. After this period the organ gradually disappears and is replaced by fat. In elderly individuals the thymus weighs 5 g. The aim of this work is to shed new light on this important immune defense organ, whose function is not confined to the destruction of nonfunctional T cells.

Key words

thymus, tymocytes, thymosin, thymus regeneration

References (35)

  1. Bredenkamp N, Nowell CS, Blackburn CC: Regeneration of the aged thymus by a single transcription factor. Development 2014, 141, 1627. DOI: 10.1242/dev.103614.
  2. Aw D, Silva AB, Palmer DB: Immunosenescence: emerging challenges for an ageing population. Immunology 2007, 120, 435–446.
  3. Elmore S: Enhanced histopathology evaluation of thymus. Toxicol Pathol 2006, 34, 656–665.
  4. Haley PJ: Species differences in the structure and function of the immune system. Toxicology 2003, 188, 49–71.
  5. Medawar PB: In: Wolstenholme GEW, Knight J, eds. The immunologically competent cell. Its nature and origin. Ciba Foundation Study Group, No.16 London: Churchill 1963, 70.
  6. Sternberg EM: The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health and Emotions. New York: WH Freeman and Company 2000.
  7. Miller JFAP: Role of the thymus in murine leukaemia. Nature 1959, 183, 1069.
  8. Miller JFAP: Analysis of the thymus influence in leukaemogenesis. Nature 1960, 191, 248–249.
  9. Gowans JL, Gesner BM, McGregor DD: The immunological activity of lymphocytes. In: Wolstenholme GEW, O’Connor M, eds. Biological Activity of the Leucocyte. Ciba Foundation Study Group. London: Churchill 1961, 32–44.
  10. Miller JFAP: Immunological function of the thymus. Lancet 1961, 2, 748–749.
  11. Miller JFAP: Effect of neonatal thymectomy on the immunological responsiveness of the mouse. Proc Roy Soc London 1962, 156B, 410–428.
  12. Bleul CC, Boehm T: BMP signaling is required for normal thymus development. J Immunol 2005, 175, 5213–5221.
  13. Miller JFAP: Role of the thymus in transplantation immunity. Ann NY Acad Sci 1962, 99, 340–354.
  14. Miller JFAP: Aetiology and pathogenesis of mouse leukaemia. Adv Cancer Res 1961, 6, 291–368.
  15. Miller JFAP: Fate of subcutaneous thymus grafts in thymectomized mice inoculated with leukaemic filktrates. Nature 1959, 184, 1809–1810.
  16. Beard J: The source of leucocytes and the true function of the thymus. Anat Anz 1990, 18, 550–560.
  17. Ribatti D, Crivellato E, Vacca A: Miller’s seminal studies on the role of thymus in immunity. Clin Exp Immunol 2006, 144, 371–375.
  18. Gowans IL, Gesner BM, McGregor DD: The immunological activities of lymphocytes. In: Wolstenholme GEW, O’Connor M, editors. Biological activity of leucocyte. London: Churchill 1961, 32–34. Ciba Foundation Study Group.
  19. Ma D, Wei Y, Liu F: Regulatory mechanism of thymus and T cell development. Dev Comp Immunol 2013, 39, 91–102.
  20. Grasica. http://zdrowie.gazeta.pl/Zdrowie/1,111848,9200208,Grasica.html.
  21. Abraham GE: Solid-phase radioimmunoassay of estradiol-17. J Clin Endocr 1969, 29, 866.
  22. Abkaham GE: Radroimmunoassay of steroids in biological materials. Aaa Endocr (Kbh) 1974, Suppl 83, I.
  23. Alexandem DP, BRi-rrov HG, FoKSi.iNti ML, Nixon DA, Ratcliffe JG: The concentration of adrenocorticoirophin, vasopressin and oxytocin in the foetal and maternal plasma of (he sheep in the latler hall’ of geslalion. J Eiidoir 1971, 49, 179.
  24. Phillips LH 2nd: The epidemiology of myasthenia gravis. Ann NY Acad Sci 2003, 998, 407–412.
  25. Kubota K, Yamada S, Kondo T: PET imaging of primary mediatinal tumours. Br J Cancer 1996, 73, 882.
  26. Hiroshi OT: The role of the thymus in the pathogenesis of myasthenia gravis. J Exp Med 2005, 207, 87–98.
  27. Lischner HW, Dacou C, DiGeorge AM: Normal lymphocyte transfer (NLT) test: negative response in a patient with congenital absence of the thymus. Transplantation 1967, 5, 555.
  28. WHO Scientific group Report. Primary immunodeficiency diseases. Clin Exp Immunol 1999, 118, 1–34
  29. Boehm T, Swann JB: Thymus involution and regeneration: Two sides of the same coin? Nat Rev Immunol 2013, 831–838.
  30. Babies with DiGeorge syndrome saved by immune suppresion, thymus transplant. http://corporate.dukemedicine. org/news_and_publications/news_office/news/7983.
  31. Kunzmann S, Glogger K, Been JV, Kallapur SG, Nitsos I, Moss TJ: Thymic changes after chorioamnionitis induced by intraamniotic lipopolysaccharide in fetal sheep. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2010, 202, 476, e1–9.
  32. Khan MA, Moeez S, Akhtar S: T-regulatory cell-mediated immune tolerance as a potential immunotherapeutic strategy to facilitate graft survival. Blood Transfus 2013, 11, 357–363.
  33. Clarke AG, Kendall MD: The thymus in pregnancy: The interplay of Neural, endocrine and immune influences. Immunol Today 1994, 15, 545–551.
  34. Development of stem cell based therapy forthymic regeneration. http://cordis.europa.eu/project/rcn/110175_en.html.
  35. Centre for Regenerative Medicine. http://www.crm.ed.ac.uk/news/scientists-regenerate-immune-organ-mice.