Myosin and actin containing cells in the human postnatal thymus. Ultrastructural and immunohistochemical findings in normal thymus and in myasthenia gravis

Virchows Arch B Cell Pathol Incl Mol Pathol. 1979 Dec;32(1):33-45. doi: 10.1007/BF02889011.


Samples of normal human thymus of different ages (4-63 years old) were studied by immunofluorescence microscopy (using antibodies to smooth muscle myosin, to actin from the chicken gizzard, and antibodies to myosin from human striated muscle) as well as by routine electron microscopy. Thymus tissue from myasthenia gravis patients was also investigated for comparative reasons. Epithelial cells reacted with anti-smooth, but not with anti-striated muscle myosin, whereas myoid cells reacted with antibodies to striated, but not to smooth muscle myosin. Both epithelial and myoid cells displayed a strong immunoreactivity with antiactin. Corresponding to this immunoreactivity, both cell types contained bundles of thin, actin-like filaments. Myoid cells occurred in the rounded and elongated variety, and they were a normal constituent of all thymuses investigated in this study. Ultrastructurally, this non-innervated, striated muscle-like cell type possessed bundles of thin and thick filaments as well as Z lines in a rather disorganized arrangement, resembling striated muscle after denervation or various other pathologic conditions. There were no overt differences in the number and structure of myoid cells between healthy and myasthenic patients.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / metabolism
  • Actins / analysis*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Myasthenia Gravis / pathology*
  • Myosins / analysis*
  • Receptors, Cholinergic / immunology
  • Thymus Gland / analysis
  • Thymus Gland / cytology
  • Thymus Gland / pathology*
  • Thymus Gland / ultrastructure


  • Actins
  • Receptors, Cholinergic
  • Myosins
  • Acetylcholine