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Int Rev Immunol. 1990;6(2-3):117-26.

Thymic dendritic cells and B cells: isolation and function.

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Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science, Kyoto University, Japan.


The thymus is the primary organ in which T cells undergo rearrangement of T cell receptor alpha and beta genes, positive selection for affinity to self MHC products, and elimination (negative selection) of reactivity to self antigens. These events require an interaction of the developing T cell with other cell types in the thymus. The latter include epithelial cells, macrophages, dendritic cells, and the recently described thymic B cells the majority of which are CD5+. Here we review the identification and isolation of thymic dendritic cells and CD5+ B cells. We consider phenotype, ontogeny, and function, including possible contributions to the induction of self tolerance. Thymic dendritic cells are similar to spleen dendritic cells, but are larger and exhibit a few differences in phenotype. Dendritic cells from both organs are equally potent accessory cells for the MLR and lectin-induced, T cell proliferation. Thymic dendritic cells have higher levels of Fc receptors and support anti-CD3 dependent mitogenesis. Thymic CD5+ B cells share phenotypic features with peritoneal CD5+ B cells. However thymic B cells neither proliferate nor form antibody producing cells in response to the stimulation with LPS or anti-IgM plus IL-4, but do respond to stimulation with MHC class II-restricted helper T cells. Thymic dendritic cells and CD5+ B cells both appear at a similar time in ontogeny, about 14 d of gestation, which is the time T cell differentiation begins to take place. Dendritic cells from spleen, which are potent activators for peripheral T cells, are also potent inactivators for thymic-derived cytotoxic T cells. A correlation between reactivity to MIs products and the expression of TCR-V beta genes is well documented, and B cells are the primary APC for this antigen. Therefore, thymic CD5+ B cells may be a good tool for the investigation of tolerance to M1s products.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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