Thymic involution in aging

R. Aspinall, D. Andrew

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

216 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The size of the naive T-cell pool is governed by output from the thymus and not by replication. This pool contributes cells to the activated/memory T-cell pool whose size can be increased through cell multiplication; both pools together constitute the peripheral T-cell pool. Aging is associated with involution of the thymus leading to a reduction in its contribution to the naive T-cell pool; however, despite this diminished thymic output, there is no significant decline in the total number of T cells in the peripheral T-cell pool. There are, however, considerable shifts in the ratios of both pools of cells, with an increase in the number of activated/memory T cells and the accumulation in older individuals of cells that fail to respond to stimuli as efficiently as T cells from younger individuals. Aging is also associated with a greater susceptibility to some infections and some cancers. An understanding of the causal mechanism of thymic involution could lead to the design of a rational therapy to reverse the loss of thymic tissue, renew thymic function, increase thymic output, and potentially improve immune function in aged individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-256
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Immunology
Volume20
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2000
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Atrophy
  • IL-7
  • Involution
  • Thymus
  • Transgenic mice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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