Thymic dendritic cells and T cells develop simultaneously in the thymus from a common precursor population

Nature. 1993 Apr 22;362(6422):761-3. doi: 10.1038/362761a0.


Dendritic cells, a minor cell population in lymphoid tissues, are specialized for presentation of antigenic peptides to T lymphocytes. Thymic dendritic cells are involved in the deletion of self-reactive T lymphocytes. Although all dendritic cells are ultimately of bone-marrow origin, it has not been clear whether thymic dendritic cells are produced in the adult thymus from a precursor cell or whether they migrate there preformed from the periphery. Recently we isolated from adult mouse thymus a population of early T precursors that could still form B lymphocytes, but not erythroid or myeloid cells, when transferred intravenously. Here we show that these thymic lymphoid precursor cells, as well as bone-marrow haematopoietic stem cells, are able to form both dendritic cells and T-cell progeny when transferred into an irradiated thymus. Such linked development may ensure that developing T cells are negatively selected predominantly by self antigens presented on newly formed thymic dendritic cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Cells
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Dendritic Cells / cytology*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Thymus Gland / cytology*