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Arch Histol Cytol. 1997 Mar;60(1):29-38.

Sex hormones and the thymus in relation to thymocyte proliferation and maturation.

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Department of Morphology, Tokai University School of Medicine, Isehara, Japan.


This paper reviews the mechanism of sex hormone actions on the thymus, presenting mainly our data obtained at the cellular and molecular levels. First, data supporting the "genomic" action via the nuclear sex hormone receptor complexes are as follows: 1) sex hormone receptors and the thymic factor (thymulin) are co-localized in thymic epithelial cells, but not in T cells; 2) production/expression of thymic factors (thymulin, thymosin alpha 1) are remarkably inhibited by sex hormone treatment; 3) sex hormones cause changes in T cell subpopulations in the thymus; and 4) sex hormones strongly influence the development of thymus tumors in spontaneous thymoma BUF/Mna rats through their receptor within the tumor cells. Secondly, data indicating the "non-genomic" action of sex hormones via a membrane signal-generating mechanism are as follows: 1) the proliferation/maturation of thymic epithelial cells is mediated through protein kinase C activity introduced by sex hormones; 2) sex hormones directly influence DNA synthesis and cdc2 kinase (cell cycle-promoting factor) activity.

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