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Eur J Immunol. 1985 Jul;15(7):675-81.

Stromal cell types in the developing thymus of the normal and nude mouse embryo.


The anatomical distribution of various nonlymphoid cell types in the embryonic mouse thymus in vivo and in vitro, as well as in the thymic rudiment of the nude mouse embryo, has been studied. For this purpose a panel of monoclonal antibodies, ER-TR3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, directed to various types of stromal cells of the mouse thymus, was used in combination with immunoperoxidase labeling on frozen sections. It was shown that as early as day 13 in thymic ontogeny distinction of TR4+ cortical epithelial cells and TR5+ medullary epithelial cells is possible. Thus, as far as stromal components are concerned, the thymus at day 13 in ontogeny is already subdivided into cortex and medulla. At day 13, Ia (TR3) was expressed in a focal pattern in the medulla subsequently appearing throughout both cortex and medulla by day 16. The thymic rudiment of the nude mouse embryo differs markedly from the normal embryonic thymus in its lack of demonstrable Ia antigen. Furthermore, TR4 and TR5 were only expressed on occasional epithelial cells lining the cysts of the nude thymus in a mutually exclusive fashion. The majority of stromal cells of the nude thymus, however, is negative for all ER-TR antibodies tested. In addition, we have shown that in organ cultures the organization of the stroma of thymic lobes remains intact, at least for a period of 11 days. Embryonic thymi cultured in the presence of deoxyguanosine, which causes depletion of lymphoid cells, also contain cortical and medullary areas as identified by the presence of TR3,4+ and TR5+ stromal cells. This indicates that the lack of organization in the nude thymus is not simply due to the absence of lymphoid cells.

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