May 30, 2013

Swiss-Japanese Research Suggests Origins of Key Cells in the Thymus

Medullary thymic epithelial cells (mTECs) allow the thymus to ensure that the body’s T cells are able to distinguish between potentially harmful foreign antigens and those that are produced by the body itself. A Swiss-Japanese research team suggests that mTECs do not share a common progenitor with cortical-thymic TECs (cTECs) that produce T cells, but may actually evolve from them.

T-lymphocytes, or T cells, are a principal component of the body’s adaptive immune system. Together, these cells express a large repertoire of antigen specific receptors that recognise foreign material derived, for example, from pathogens and tumour cells. The generation of these antigen receptors occurs during T cell development in the thymus.