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Human thymic epithelial primary cells produce exosomes carrying tissue-restricted antigens.

Journal article
Authors Gabriel Skogberg
Vanja Lundberg
Martin Berglund
Judith Gudmundsdottir
Esbjörn Telemo
Susanne Lindgren
Olov Ekwall
Published in Immunology and cell biology
Volume 93
Pages 727–73
ISSN 1440-1711
Publication year 2015
Published at Institute of Medicine, Department of Rheumatology and Inflammation Research
Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Pediatrics
Pages 727–73
Language en
Subject categories Immunology in the medical area, Pediatrics


Exosomes are nano-sized vesicles released by cells into the extracellular space and have been shown to be present in thymic tissue both in mice and in humans. The source of thymic exosomes is however still an enigma and hence it is not known whether thymic epithelial cells (TECs) are able to produce exosomes. In this work, we have cultured human TECs and isolated exosomes. These exosomes carry tissue-restricted antigens (TRAs), for example, myelin basic protein and desmoglein 3. The presence of TRAs indicates a possible role for thymic epithelium-derived exosomes in the selection process of thymocytes. The key contribution of these exosomes could be to disseminate self-antigens from the thymic epithelia, thus making them more accessible to the pool of maturing thymocytes. This would increase the coverage of TRAs within the thymus, and facilitate the process of positive and negative selection.Immunology and Cell Biology advance online publication, 17 March 2015; doi:10.1038/icb.2015.33.

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