Thymic function and allogeneic T-cell responses in stem-cell transplantation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The thymus is the primary site of T-cell production early in life, and has now been shown to continue to function in both healthy and immunocompromised individuals late into life. Positive and negative selection occurring in the thymus are two of the most important processes that govern the development and specificity of peripheral T cells, including their restriction to self HLA and their ability to respond in an alloreactive manner. In the chimeric state that follows successful allogeneic stem-cell transplants, the specificity of alloreactive cells may be governed by either host- or recipient-derived cellular elements, as well as maturing lymphoid cells, which are, in turn, derived from donor stem cells or host cells surviving transplant conditioning. The ability to measure recent thymic emigrants via the detection of T-cell receptor excision circles has facilitated studies of thymic function in immunodeficient individuals, including HIV-1 infected subjects and recipients of autologous or allogeneic stem-cell transplant (SCT). These studies have now demonstrated that thymic function is likely to play a beneficial role in immune reconstitution in these settings, but have yet to clearly demonstrate what clinical variables are the most important determinants of thymic persistence. It is also not yet clear how much the degree of thymic function following allogeneic SCT influences the alloreactive T-cell repertoire, although studies in animal models and early clinical studies suggest that GvHD results in thymic injury and dysfunction. Future studies will further clarify how thymic function shapes the repertoire of T cells that mediate alloreactivity, as well as protective pathogen-specific immune responses, following SCT. Finally, these studies will also demonstrate whether endogenous mediators of thymic function could be selectively applied to regulate post-SCT thymic function and alloreactivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-342
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • CD4 T-cell
  • CD8 T-cell
  • Immune reconstitution
  • Stem cell transplantation
  • Thymus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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