Human thymic epithelial cells directly induce activation of autologous immature thymocytes.


Journal Article

To study the role that epithelial cells of the thymic microenvironment play in promoting activation of immature CD7+, CD2+, CD4-, CD8- (double-negative) human thymocytes, we have isolated thymocyte subsets from normal postnatal thymus and have cocultured autologous double-negative thymocytes with pure populations of thymic epithelial (TE) cells. We report that TE cells directly activate double-negative thymocytes to proliferate and that TE cells enhance the ability of double-negative thymocytes to proliferate in response to stimulation with exogenous interleukin 2. Activated double-negative thymocytes that proliferated in vitro in the presence of TE cells and interleukin 2 remained double-negative after 23 days in culture. Moreover, TE-cell culture supernatants in the absence of intact TE cells contain interleukin 1, interleukin 3, and granulocyte/macrophage-colony-stimulating factor activity for human bone marrow cells and can activate double-negative thymocytes to proliferate. Antibodies against interleukin 1 and against granulocyte/macrophage-colony-stimulating factor inhibited TE-cell-induced thymocyte activation. These data indicate that one role of TE cells in vivo may be to activate double-negative thymocytes to proliferate.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Denning, SM; Kurtzberg, J; Le, PT; Tuck, DT; Singer, KH; Haynes, BF

Published Date

  • May 1988

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 85 / 9

Start / End Page

  • 3125 - 3129

PubMed ID

  • 3129728

Pubmed Central ID

  • 3129728

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0027-8424

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1073/pnas.85.9.3125


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States