Generation of functional thymocytes in the human adult

Immunity. 1999 May;10(5):569-75. doi: 10.1016/s1074-7613(00)80056-4.


Reconstituting the immune response will be critical for the survival of HIV-infected individuals once viral load is brought under control. While the adult thymus was previously thought to be relatively inactive, new data suggest it may play a role in T cell reconstitution. We examined thymopoiesis in adults up to 56 years of age and found active T cell receptor (TCR) rearrangement, generating a diverse TCR Vbeta repertoire. The resulting thymocytes are functional and are capable of responding to costimulatory signals. These data demonstrate that the adult thymus remains active late in life and contributes functional T cells to the peripheral lymphoid pool.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / virology
  • Cell Division / immunology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Gene Rearrangement, T-Lymphocyte
  • Genetic Variation
  • HIV Infections / immunology
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / genetics
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Thymus Gland / cytology*
  • Thymus Gland / immunology*


  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell