The Thymus: A Forgotten, But Very Important Organ

Adv Clin Exp Med. Mar-Apr 2016;25(2):369-75. doi: 10.17219/acem/58802.


Medical science seems to be on the threshold of a revolution: It seems possible that in twenty years, doctors will be able to replace organs in the human body like parts in a car. This is thanks to the recent achievement of a team from the Medical Research Council Center for Regenerative Medicine in Edinburgh, Scotland - the group of researchers tried to regenerate the thymus gland in mice. The thymus gland is an essential organ for the development of the immune system, but very few people have any idea that it exists. In the literature and also in people's awareness, the fact is often that the thymus controls and harmonizes the entire immune system and the immune functioning of the organism. It is the primary donor of cells for the lymphatic system, much as bone marrow is the cell donor for the cardiovascular system. It is within the thymus that progenitor cells are created and then undergo maturation and differentiation into mature T cells. The thymus gland is located in the mediastinum, behind the sternum. It is composed of two identical lobes. Each lobe is divided into a central medulla and a peripheral cortex. The thymus is at its largest and most active during the neonatal and pre-adolescent periods. After this period the organ gradually disappears and is replaced by fat. In elderly individuals the thymus weighs 5 g. The aim of this work is to shed new light on this important immune defense organ, whose function is not confined to the destruction of nonfunctional T cells.

Keywords: thymosin; thymus; thymus regeneration; tymocytes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aging / immunology
  • Animals
  • Clonal Selection, Antigen-Mediated
  • Humans
  • Regeneration*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Thymocytes / immunology*
  • Thymocytes / transplantation
  • Thymus Gland / cytology
  • Thymus Gland / immunology*
  • Thymus Gland / transplantation
  • Thymus Hormones / metabolism


  • Thymus Hormones