Emerging strategies to boost thymic function

Curr Opin Pharmacol. 2010 Aug;10(4):443-53. doi: 10.1016/j.coph.2010.04.008. Epub 2010 May 4.


The thymus constitutes the primary lymphoid organ for the generation of T cells. Its function is particularly susceptible to various negative influences ranging from age-related involution to atrophy as a consequence of malnutrition, infection or harmful iatrogenic influences such as chemotherapy and radiation. The loss of regular thymus function significantly increases the risk for infections and cancer because of a restricted capacity for immune surveillance. In recent years, thymus-stimulatory, thymus-regenerative, and thymus-protective strategies have been developed to enhance and repair thymus function in the elderly and in individuals undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. These strategies include the use of sex steroid ablation, the administration of growth and differentiation factors, the inhibition of p53, and the transfer of T cell progenitors to alleviate the effects of thymus dysfunction and consequent T cell deficiency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Androgen Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Atrophy / etiology
  • Graft vs Host Disease / complications
  • Graft vs Host Disease / physiopathology
  • Growth Hormone / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Infections / complications
  • Infections / physiopathology
  • Malnutrition / complications
  • Malnutrition / physiopathology
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects
  • Somatomedins / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Thymus Gland / drug effects
  • Thymus Gland / pathology
  • Thymus Gland / physiopathology*


  • Androgen Antagonists
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Somatomedins
  • Growth Hormone