Establishing tolerance remains a central, if elusive, goal of transplantation. In solid-organ transplantation, one strategy for inducing tolerance has been cotransplantation of various forms of thymic tissue along with another organ. As one of the biological foundations of central tolerance, thymic tissue carries with it the ability to induce tolerance to any other organ or tissue from the same donor (or another donor tissue-matched to the thymic tissue) if successfully transplanted. In this review, we outline the history of this approach as well as work to date on its application in organ transplantation, concluding with future directions. We also review our experience with allogeneic processed thymus tissue for the treatment of congenital athymia, encompassing complete DiGeorge syndrome and other rare genetic disorders, and consider whether allogeneic processed thymic tissue implantation may offer a novel method for future experimentation with tolerance induction in organ transplantation.
Keywords: DiGeorge syndrome; T cells; Thymus transplantation; organ transplantation; tolerance.
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