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Interleukin-22 Drives Endogenous Thymic Regeneration in Mice

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Science  06 Apr 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6077, pp. 91-95
DOI: 10.1126/science.1218004

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IL-22 Protects the Thymus

One of the side effects associated with radiation treatment and some types of chemotherapy is damage to the thymus. Immunological T cells develop in the thymus, and so damage to this organ results in immunodeficiency and increased susceptibility to infectious disease. Although the organ eventually recovers, therapies that speed this recovery process are of interest. Dudakov et al. (p. 91, published online 1 March; see the Perspective by Bhandoola and Artis) now show in mice that interleukin-22 (IL-22) production in the thymus is increased in response to radiation damage and that this cytokine promotes thymic repair. After radiation treatment, IL-23 production by thymic dendritic cells induced IL-22 secretion by a population of radio-resistant innate lymphoid cells. IL-22 appeared to mediate its effects by promoting the survival and proliferation of thymic epithelial cells.

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