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Curr Opin Hematol. 2010 Jul;17(4):327-32. doi: 10.1097/MOH.0b013e3283395133.

Key players for T-cell regeneration.

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  • 1Department of Immunology, University of Toronto, and Sunnybrook Research Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



The thymus provides a unique and essential microenvironment for T-cell precursors to develop into mature functionally competent T lymphocytes. Ageing causes architectural changes in the thymus resulting in a loss of thymic epithelial space required for thymopoiesis - a process known as thymic involution. Additionally, cytoablative regimens used to treat malignancies also destroy thymic architecture. The net result of both processes is diminished thymic output and function that may lead to impaired immunity. Thus, immunocompromised individuals would benefit from strategies aimed at enhancing T-cell reconstitution.


Here we discuss strategies such as the use of sex steroid ablation, keratinocyte growth factor, interleukin-7, and in-vitro-generated progenitor T cells as candidates for restoring T-cell immunity. Using various animal models of ageing or hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, these strategies have been shown to restore thymic architecture and cellularity, resulting in increased output and T-cell function in the periphery.


These candidate approaches are currently being tested in clinical trials, with preliminary evidence showing encouraging effects on T-cell reconstitution. Nevertheless, although these strategies show clear promise in animal models, and in early human trials, further data are needed to determine their efficacy in patients.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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