T cell development, ageing and Interleukin-7

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56 Citations (Scopus)


Interleukin-7 (IL-7) is a cytokine with a central role in the development and maintenance of the peripheral T cell pool. In the mouse, expression of the IL-7 gene in the thymus has been carefully followed from gestation onwards throughout the lifespan. One of the features of its expression in the thymus is that it changes with time, declining measurably as the animal ages. This reduction is associated with a decrease in thymic size, cellularity and output. Analysis of transgenic animals carrying either IL-7 or IL-7 receptor transgenes reveals that the intrathymic level of IL-7 has a critical effect on the production of T cells, and that this may not be a linear relationship. This is an important consideration for therapy involving treatment of old animals with IL-7 of which there are reports indicating some rejuvenation of the thymus following IL-7 treatment, which is never complete. The thymus does not appear to return to the size and cellularity seen in youth. Several possible scenarios could account for this, including the inability to maintain IL-7 within defined limits in the thymus during the therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)572-578
Number of pages7
JournalMechanisms of Ageing and Development
Issue number6
Early online date10 Mar 2006
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Interleukin-7 (IL-7)
  • T cells
  • Thymus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Developmental Biology


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