Thymic cortical epithelial cells lack full capacity for antigen presentation

Nature. 1989 Aug 17;340(6234):557-9. doi: 10.1038/340557a0.


Several recent studies have suggested that interactions between thymocytes and thymic stromal cells are essential for the development and elimination of antigen-reactive T lymphocytes. It is important, therefore, to characterize the stromal cells involved in presentation of antigen in the thymus. In a previous report, we demonstrated, using T-cell hybridomas, that three distinct types of antigen presenting cells in the thymus (cortical epithelial cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells) constitutively expressed self haemoglobin/Ia complexes. Here we report that one of these cell types, the cortical epithelial cell, does not induce stimulation of T-lymphocyte clones even though the antigen/Ia complex required for antigen-specific recognition is present. This lack of response occurs with both TH1 and TH2 clones. Responsiveness of the TH2 clone can be restored by adding the murine lymphokine interleukin-1 beta to the culture system.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / physiology*
  • Epithelium / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Mice
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Thymus Gland / immunology*