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Dev Immunol. 1993; 3(2): 123–135.
PMCID: PMC2275922

Is There an Interspecific Diversity of the Thymic Microenvironment?


Thymic epithelial cells (TEC) heterogeneity suggests the existence of functional subsets. Anti-cytokeratin (Anti-CK) monoclonal antibodies (MAb), markers of epithelial differentiation, have been used to detect TEC subsets in rodents and humans. These MAb revealed a different topography of CK-defined TEC subsets in mice and humans, leading us to carry out a comparative study of mammalian thymuses. Our study showed that the distribution pattern of cytokeratins in the thymic epithelium is complex and unique, with coexpression of CK typical of simple and stratified epithelia. Moreover, we demonstrated an interspecific diversity of CK expression within the thymic lobules. Interestingly, such diversity was not a general phenomenon for the expression of any thymic microenvironmental proteins, because the location of extracellular matrix components was essentially similar in the mammalian species studied.

Keywords: Mammalian thymuses, thymic microenvironment heterogeneity, cytokeratins, thymic epithelium, extracellular matrix

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