Thymus-neuroendocrine interactions in extrathymic T cell development

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Science  23 Sep 1994:
Vol. 265, Issue 5180, pp. 1860-1862
DOI: 10.1126/science.8091211


Studies of the development of murine intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs) have yielded markedly different results depending on the experimental system used. In athymic radiation chimeras, IELs consist of all subsets found in euthymic mice; adult mice that were athymic at birth have only IELs that are positive for T cell receptor gamma delta and CD8 alpha alpha. These differences are resolved by the finding that administration of the neuropeptide thyrotropin-releasing hormone to adult mice thymectomized as neonates leads to the development of all IEL T cells. Thus, a neuroendocrine signal initiated by the thymus during fetal or neonatal life appears to be required for subsequent extrathymic maturation of gut alpha beta T cells.

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