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Nat Rev Immunol. 2007 Dec;7(12):954-63.

Generating intrathymic microenvironments to establish T-cell tolerance.

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MRC Centre for Immune Regulation, Institute for Biomedical Research, Medical School, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK.


Alphabeta T cells pass through a series of lymphoid tissue stromal microenvironments to acquire self tolerance and functional competence. In the thymus, positive selection of the developing T-cell receptor repertoire occurs in the cortex, whereas events in the medulla purge the system of self reactivity. T cells that survive are exported to secondary lymphoid organs where they direct first primary and then memory immune responses. This Review focuses on the microenvironments that nurture T-cell development rather than on T cells themselves. We summarize current knowledge on the formation of thymic epithelial-cell microenvironments, and highlight similarities between the environments that produce T cells and those that select and maintain them during immune responses.

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