Phenotypic and immunohistological analyses of the human adult thymus: evidence for an active thymus during adult life
Bertho JM, Demarquay C, Moulian N, Van Der Meeren A, Berrih-Aknin S, Gourmelon P
Cell Immunol 1997 Jul 10;179(1):30-40
We analyzed cellular content of thymic samples from 26 human healthy donors, ranging from 1 week postnatal to 49 years old. Our results showed that there was an overall decrease in cellular density, beginning early during life, but with two peaks of cellular density, at 9 months and 10 years of age. Histological and immunohistological analyses showed that variations in cellular density were correlated with the morphological changes observed during thymic involution, namely the enlargement of interlobular trabeculae and the development of adipocytic tissue. However, the adult thymus still contained thymocytes, up to 49 years. Phenotypic analysis showed no significant variations according to the age of donors in the distribution of the main thymocyte subsets, both precursors and more mature cells. These results suggest that the human thymus remains active during adult life.