thymus


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

thymus

 [thi´mus]
a ductless gland lying in the upper mediastinum beneath the sternum; it reaches its maximum development during puberty and continues to play an immunologic role throughout life, even though its function declines with age. During the last stages of fetal life and the early neonatal period, the reticular structure of the thymus entraps immature stem cells arising from the bone marrow and circulating in the blood. The thymus preprocesses these cells, causing them to become sensitized and therefore capable of maturing into a specific differentiated type of lymphocyte. After sensitization by the thymus, the cells reenter the blood and are transported to developing lymphoid tissue, where they seed the cells that eventually become T lymphocytes, a type essential to the development of cell-mediated immunity. If the thymus is removed or becomes nonfunctional during fetal life, the lymphoid tissue fails to become seeded with the sensitized lymphocytes and the body's cell-mediated arm of immunity fails to develop. It is this arm of immunity that is mainly responsible for rejection of organ transplants and resistance to intracellular microbial infection, and perhaps plays a role in natural resistance to cancer.
Thymus.

thy·mus

, pl.

thy·mi

,

thy·mus·es

(thī'mŭs, thī'mī, thī'mus-ez), [TA]
[TA] A primary lymphoid organ, located in the superior and anterior mediastinum and lower part of the neck, that is necessary in early life for the normal development of immunologic function. It reaches its greatest relative weight shortly after birth and its greatest absolute weight at puberty; it then begins to involute, and much of the lymphoid tissue is replaced by fat. The thymus consists of two irregularly shaped parts united by a connective tissue capsule. Each part is partially subdivided by connective tissue septa into lobules, 0.5-2 mm in diameter, which consist of an inner medullary portion, continuous with the medullae of adjacent lobules, and an outer cortical portion. It is supplied by the inferior thyroid and internal thoracic arteries, and its nerves are derived from the vagus and sympathetic nerves.
Synonym(s): thymus gland
[G. thymos, excrescence, sweetbread]

thymus

(thī′məs)
n. pl. thy·muses
A small glandular organ that is situated behind the top of the breastbone, consisting mainly of lymphatic tissue and serving as the site of T cell differentiation. The thymus increases gradually in size and activity until puberty, after which it begins to atrophy.

thy·mus

, pl. thymi, pl. thymuses (thī'mŭs, -mī, -mŭs-ĕz) [TA]
A primary lymphoid organ, located in the superior mediastinum and lower part of the neck, which is necessary in early life for the normal development of immunologic function. It reaches its greatest relative weight shortly after birth and its greatest absolute weight at puberty; it then begins to involute, and much of the lymphoid tissue is replaced by fat. The thymus consists of two irregularly shaped parts united by a connective tissue capsule. Each part is partially subdivided by connective tissue septa into lobules, which consist of an inner medullary portion, continuous with the medullae of adjacent lobules, and an outer cortical portion.
Synonym(s): thymus gland.
[G. thymos, excrescence, sweetbread]

thymus

(thi'mus) [Gr. thymos]
Enlarge picture
THYMUS
A primary lymphoid organ located in the mediastinal cavity anterior to and above the heart, where it lies over the superior vena cava, aortic arch, and trachea. The thymus comprises two fused lobes, the right larger than the left. The lobes are partially divided into lobules, each of which has an outer cortex packed with immature and developing T lymphocytes (thymocytes) and an inner medulla containing a looser arrangement of mature T lymphocytes. See: illustration

The thymus is the primary site for T-lymphocyte differentiation; here, T lymphocytes acquire their range of antigen receptors. During the prenatal period, lymphoid stem cells migrate from the bone marrow to the thymus, filling the cortex of the lobules. Developing thymocytes acquire their characteristic CD surface antigens and their binding receptors. As the thymocytes then move from the cortex into the medulla of the lobules, some are protected but many undergo cell death in a process that culls out those reactive to autoantigens. Less than 5 % of the thymocytes mature into T cells that pass out of the lobules and migrate to the spleen, lymph nodes, and other lymphoid tissue, where they control cell-mediated immune responses. The thymus produces at least four hormones: thymopoietin, thymulin, thymus humoral factor, and the thymosins.

At birth, the thymus weighs 10-15 g; by puberty, it weighs about 20 g. After this, the cortical regions of the thymus shrink and become replaced by adipose tissue, although the thymus continues to produce hormones and some thymocytes into old age.

Pathology

Lack of a thymus or thymus hypoplasia is one component of DiGeorge syndrome, which is marked by severe lack of cell-mediated immunity; removal of the thymus of an adult is less catastrophic but leads to a less effective response to new antegens. Thymic hyperplasia results from the growth of lymph follicles containing both B lymphocytes and dendritic cells. It is found in myasthenia gravis and, occasionally, in other autoimmune diseases (e.g., Graves' disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic lupus erythematosus). Thymomas involve only the thymic epithelial cells. Other tumors, including those associated with Hodgkin's disease and lymphomas, involve thymocytes.

accessory thymus

A lobule isolated from the mass of the thymus gland. It is also called a supernumerary thymus.
Synonym: supernumerary thymus

persistent hyperplastic thymus

Thymus persisting into adulthood, sometimes hypertrophying.

supernumerary thymus

Accessory thymus.

thymus

A small flat organ of the lymphatic system situated immediately behind the breastbone, that is apparent in children but inconspicuous after puberty. The thymus processes primitive LYMPHOCYTES so that they differentiate into the T cells of the immune system. It also differentiates T cells into T1 and T2 classes, a process that is influenced by the early environment of the individual.

thymus

an endocrine gland situated in the neck region of most vertebrates, but close to the heart in mammals. It produces LYMPHOCYTES which then move to lymph nodes. The thymus produces a hormone called thymosin which causes the lymphocytes to form ANTIBODY-producing plasma cells immediately after birth, but regresses in adult animals.

Thymus

An organ near the base of the neck that produces cells that fight infection. It is at its largest at puberty, then declines in size and function during adult life.

thy·mus

, pl. thymi, pl. thymuses (thī'mŭs, -mī, -mŭs-ĕz) [TA]
A primary lymphoid organ, located in the superior mediastinum and lower part of the neck, which is necessary in early life for the normal development of immunologic function.
[G. thymos, excrescence, sweetbread]
References in periodicals archive ?
The role of the thymus in immune reconstitution in aging, bone marrow transplantation, and HIV-1 infection.
In the animal model of TBI, the injection of self-CSF and self-brain-homogenate into the thymus can induce the immune tolerance of brain antigen, which has therapeutic effect.[12],[108],[109] We then confirmed that intrathymic injections of brain antigens can induce immune tolerance by the reeducation function of the thymus.[110] In that study, T cells were isolated from the spleens of C57BL/6 mice after intrathymic injection of MBP in the experimental group.
Un cas d'epithelioma primitif du thymus. Prov Med Lyons.
In conclusion, the normal and hyperplasia thymus glands present great fat infiltration.
Although the detailed mechanism is not yet clear, it is possible that NT shows the highest function of T cell production among the thymus grafts [4].
Primary epithelial neoplasms arising from the thymus are extremely rare in the pediatric population and represent less than 1% of mediastinal masses in this age group.
Thymus weight (% of BW)###0.0930.0014###0.0810.0029###0.0620.0033###0.0430.0017###0.180.0371
The results of histopathological changes revealed that in the 1st group the lesions were most obvious in both thymus and Harderian gland among other groups and this contributed to the toxic effect of aflatoxin on body tissue, while the 2nd group show less pathological effect on thymus and Harderian gland and this indicated that acetic acid decreased the toxicity of aflatoxin.
Since CNCC contributes to thymus organogenesis7, it is one of the constant targets of retinoic embryopathy8.