Neonatal thymectomy results in a repertoire enriched in T cells deleted in adult thymus

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Science  18 Aug 1989:
Vol. 245, Issue 4919, pp. 749-752
DOI: 10.1126/science.2788921


In B6AF1 mice, T lymphocytes that use the V beta 11-positive (and not V beta 6-positive or V beta 8-positive) segment in their receptor for antigen are greatly reduced in the thymus and peripheral lymphoid tissues, most likely as a result of clonal deletion. The relative number of V beta 11-positive cells in adult lymph nodes was ten times as high in B6AF1 mice thymectomized 1 to 4 days after birth as in normal mice. Moreover, for the first 10 days of life of B6AF1 mice, mature V beta 11-positive T cells were readily detected in the thymus and spleen. Thus neonatal thymectomy results in the maintenance of the receptor repertoire of early postnatal life, and this correlates with the subsequent development of organ-specific autoimmune diseases.

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