The thymus medulla and its control of αβT cell development

Emilie J Cosway, Kieran D James, Beth Lucas, Graham Anderson, Andrea J White

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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αβT cells are an essential component of effective immune responses. The heterogeneity that lies within them includes subsets that express diverse self-MHC-restricted αβT cell receptors, which can be further subdivided into CD4+ helper, CD8+ cytotoxic, and Foxp3+ regulatory T cells. In addition, αβT cells also include invariant natural killer T cells that are very limited in αβT cell receptor repertoire diversity and recognise non-polymorphic CD1d molecules that present lipid antigens. Importantly, all αβT cell sublineages are dependent upon the thymus as a shared site of their development. Ongoing research has examined how the thymus balances the intrathymic production of multiple αβT cell subsets to ensure correct formation and functioning of the peripheral immune system. Experiments in both wild-type and genetically modified mice have been essential in revealing complex cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate thymus function. In particular, studies have demonstrated the diverse and critical role that the thymus medulla plays in shaping the peripheral T cell pool. In this review, we summarise current knowledge on functional properties of the thymus medulla that enable the thymus to support the production of diverse αβT cell types.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-27
Number of pages13
JournalSeminars in immunopathology
Issue number1
Early online date11 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021


  • Microenvironment
  • Stromal cell
  • T cell
  • Thymocyte
  • Thymus


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