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Endocrinology. 1998 May;139(5):2399-406.

Pancreatic hormone expression in the murine thymus: localization in dendritic cells and macrophages.

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Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique URA 1461, Université Paris V, Hôpital Necker, France.


The expression of preproinsulin (ppIns), proglucagon, prosomatostatin, and propancreatic polypeptide was investigated in thymic extracts, thymic cells, and thymic cell lines from C57BL/6 mice by RT-PCR. The expression of pancreatic hormones was similar in thymic extracts taken from neonatal and 2-, 4-, and 8-week-old animals, but was decreased in 20-week-old animals. Pancreatic hormone expression was not observed in mouse liver, salivary gland, or spleen. Analysis of thymic cell populations revealed a 10- to 20-fold enrichment in expression of all hormones in low buoyant density cells. No expression was detected in high buoyant density cells (predominantly thymocytes) or in thymic epithelial cell lines, primary cultures of epithelial cells, or peripheral macrophages. In addition, immunoreactive insulin, measured by specific RIA, was detectable in the low buoyant density population, but not in high buoyant density cells. The enriched cell population was depleted of contaminating lymphocytes and sorted based on reactivity to the cell surface markers F4/80 (macrophage) or N418 (dendritic cells). Cells gated for N418 demonstrated expression for ppIns, but not the other pancreatic hormones. Conversely, expression for proglucagon, prosomatostatin, and propancreatic polypeptide, but not ppIns, was detected in F4/80-gated cells. Our data indicate that pancreatic endocrine hormones are differentially expressed by dendritic cells and macrophages in a normal mice.

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