Autocrine expression of interleukin-7 rescues lymphoid expansion in interleukin-7-deficient mice

Immunology. 1997 Nov;92(3):374-80. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2567.1997.00353.x.


The murine interleukin-7 (IL-7) gene was disrupted to examine the role of IL-7 in the lymphoid system. Expansion of lymphoid cells is sharply curtailed in IL-7-deficient mice. This is evident in a dramatic reduction but not elimination of lymphoid cells in the thymus, bone marrow and spleen. The few thymocytes present express CD4 and/or CD8 markers associated with T-cell maturation. Similarly, a limited number of B cells detected in the bone marrow rearrange and express immunoglobulin genes. Small but distinct populations of B and T cells are found in the spleens of IL-7-deficient mice. Thus the signal transmitted by IL-7 plays a central role in the expansion of lymphocytes while it is not absolutely required for their maturation. A transgene that directs expression of IL-7 to lymphoid cells was found to restore the numbers of thymocytes, bone marrow B-cell progenitors and splenic lymphocytes of IL-7-deficient mice to approximately normal levels. This genetic complementation confirms that the lymphoid defect is specifically due to the absence of IL-7 and demonstrates that the expansion of lymphoid cells in an organism is regulated by their exposure to IL-7.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autocrine Communication / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Blotting, Southern
  • Bone Marrow / immunology
  • Interleukin-7 / deficiency
  • Interleukin-7 / genetics
  • Interleukin-7 / immunology*
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Lymphoid Tissue / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Organ Size
  • Spleen / immunology
  • Spleen / pathology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Thymus Gland / immunology
  • Thymus Gland / pathology


  • Interleukin-7