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Premature thymic involution is independent of structural plasticity of the thymic stroma.

Journal article
Authors Dean Franckaert
Susan M Schlenner
Nathalie Heirman
Jason Gill
Gabriel Skogberg
Olov Ekwall
Karen Put
Michelle A Linterman
James Dooley
Adrian Liston
Published in European journal of immunology
Volume 45
Issue 5
Pages 1535–1547
ISSN 1521-4141
Publication year 2015
Published at Institute of Medicine, Department of Rheumatology and Inflammation Research
Pages 1535–1547
Language en
Keywords FVB/N mouse;Involution;Pro-T cells;Thymic epithelium cells;Thymus;Vascularization
Subject categories Immunology in the medical area, Pediatrics


The thymus is the organ devoted to T-cell production. The thymus undergoes multiple rounds of atrophy and redevelopment before degenerating with age in a process known as involution. This process is poorly understood, despite the influence the phenomenon has on peripheral T-cell numbers. Here we have investigated the FVB/N mouse strain, which displays premature thymic involution. We find multiple architectural and cellular features that precede thymic involution, including disruption of the epithelial-endothelial relationship and a progressive loss of pro-T cells. The architectural features, reminiscent of the human thymus, are intrinsic to the non-hematopoietic compartment and are neither necessary nor sufficient for thymic involution. By contrast, the loss of pro-T cells is intrinsic to the hematopoietic compartment, and is sufficient to drive premature involution. These results identify pro-T-cell loss as the main driver of premature thymic involution, and highlight the plasticity of the thymic stroma, capable of maintaining function across diverse inter-strain architectures. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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