Evidence for a cyclic renewal of lymphocyte precursor cells in the embryonic chick thymus

Cell Differ. 1987 Nov;22(1):71-82. doi: 10.1016/0045-6039(87)90414-3.


Experiments involving sequential transplantations of the chick embryonic thymus at E9 to E12 into a first 3-day host quail embryo and then into a second chick host allowed demonstration of the cyclic periodicity of hemopoietic cell seeding of the embryonic thymus. After a first wave of colonization occurring between E6.5 and E8, the thymus becomes refractory to hemopoietic cell entry for about 4 days. It resumes its capacity to be seeded by a second wave of blood-borne stem cells at E12. After a second period of non receptivity starting at E14, a third wave of incoming cells reaches the thymus around E18. Therefore, with a slightly different periodicity, the same cyclic mechanism regulates the renewal of lymphocytes in chick and quail embryos. Quail hemopoietic cells were immunostained in the chimeric thymuses, with a species specific monoclonal antibody (anti-MB1) which recognizes a common surface antigenic determinant on all endothelial and blood cells of the quail (except erythrocytes). Two steps could thus be distinguished in the seeding process. When the thymus becomes receptive for hemopoietic cells, the latter first accumulate in the intrathymic blood vessels before penetrating massively in the thymic parenchyma. The quail chick-chimera system combined with the use of a species- and cell-type-specific antibody provides a unique tool for studying thymic colonization by lymphocyte precursors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chick Embryo
  • Chimera
  • Coturnix / embryology*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Quail / embryology*
  • Thymus Gland / embryology*
  • Thymus Gland / transplantation