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Immunology. 1990 May;70(1):66-74.

The phenotypic heterogeneity of mouse thymic stromal cells.

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Department of Pathology, Monash University Medical School, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


Sixteen monoclonal antibodies (mAb) were produced against mouse thymic stromal elements. These mAb fell into two groups of reactivity: (i) thymic epithelial markers (screened and presented according to the guidelines proposed in the 1989 Rolduc Thymic Epithelial Workshop); and (ii) non-epithelial thymic markers. Specificities of these mAb included extensive subpopulations of both epithelial and non-epithelial thymic stromal cells, as well as isolated stromal cells, demonstrating some of the complex microspecificities in existence within the thymic microenvironment. Furthermore, six of these mAb demonstrated shared antigenicity between thymocytes and thymic stromal cells, revealing greater similarities than previously recognized between these two components. Three mAb detected antigens illustrating three consecutive layers of the blood-thymus barrier: the vascular endothelium; connective tissue of the capsule and perivascular spaces; and the connective tissue associated with the basal laminae lining these regions. This study illustrates unequivocably that there are indeed complex and varied microenvironments existing within the thymus, and emphasizes the need for reclassification of these cells.

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