Evidence for a Functional Second Thymus in Mice

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Science  14 Apr 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5771, pp. 284-287
DOI: 10.1126/science.1123497

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The thymus organ supports the development of T cells and is located in the thorax. Here, we report the existence of a second thymus in the mouse neck, which develops after birth and grows to the size of a small lymph node. The cervical thymus had a typical medulla-cortex structure, was found to support T cell development, and could correct T cell deficiency in athymic nude mice upon transplantation. The identification of a regular second thymus in the mouse may provide evolutionary links to thymus organogenesis in other vertebrates and suggests a need to reconsider the effect of thoracic thymectomy on de novo T cell production.

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