Human thymic epithelium and T cell development: current issues and future directions.


Journal Article (Review)

The human thymus develops early in fetal gestation with morphologic maturity reached by the beginning of the second trimester. TE3+ cortical thymic epithelium is most likely derived from endodermal third pharyngeal pouch, while A2B5/TE4+ medullary and subcapsular cortical thymic epithelium is likely derived from third pharyngeal cleft ectoderm. Fetal liver and yolk sac CD7+, CD4-, CD8-, surface(s) CD3- T cell precursors begin to colonize the thymus between 7 and 8 weeks of fetal gestation, followed by rapid expression of other T lineage surface molecules on developing thymocytes. CD7+, CD4-, CD8-, sCD3- thymocytes give rise to T cells of both the TCR alpha beta and TCR gamma delta lineages. Human thymic epithelial cells produce numerous cytokines including IL1, IL6, TGF alpha, leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF), M-CSF, G-CSF and GM-CSF- molecules that likely play important roles in multiple stages of thymocyte selection, activation and differentiation. Important areas for future research on human thymic epithelium include study of lymphoid and non-lineage differentiation potentials of CD7+, CD4-, CD8-, sCD3- T cell precursors in response to TE-cell produced cytokines, study of the triggering signals of cytokine release within the thymic microenvironment, and study of TCR-MHC mediated TE-thymocyte interactions.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Haynes, BF

Published Date

  • November 1990

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 16 / 3-4

Start / End Page

  • 143 - 157

PubMed ID

  • 2293419

Pubmed Central ID

  • 2293419

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0165-6090


  • eng

Conference Location

  • Netherlands