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Methods Mol Biol. 2007;380:197-213.

Estimating thymic function through quantification of T-cell receptor excision circles.

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Laboratoire d'Immunologie, Centre de Recherches du CHUM, Montréal, Canada.


Analysis of immune reconstitution is of major importance in clinical settings such as following bone marrow transplantation or during anti-retroviral treatment of HIV-infected patients. In these patients, thymic function is essential for the reconstitution of a diversified T-cell receptor (TCR) repertoire. During thymopoiesis, several genetic rearrangements lead to the generation of fully functional TCR. By-products of these processes, the T-cell receptor excision circles (TRECs), are present in cells exported from the thymus but do not replicate during mitosis; they can thus be used as molecular markers for recent thymic emigrants. We demonstrate how thymic function can be assessed in a quantitative and noninvasive fashion in humans by estimating intrathymic precursor T-cell proliferation through the quantification of distinct TREC molecules in peripheral blood cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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