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Science. 2006 Apr 14;312(5771):284-7. Epub 2006 Mar 2.

Evidence for a functional second thymus in mice.

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  • 1Department of Immunology, University of Ulm, D-89081 Ulm, Germany.


The thymus organ supports the development of T cells and is located in the thorax. Here, we report the existence of a second thymus in the mouse neck, which develops after birth and grows to the size of a small lymph node. The cervical thymus had a typical medulla-cortex structure, was found to support T cell development, and could correct T cell deficiency in athymic nude mice upon transplantation. The identification of a regular second thymus in the mouse may provide evolutionary links to thymus organogenesis in other vertebrates and suggests a need to reconsider the effect of thoracic thymectomy on de novo T cell production.

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