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Developmental Immunology
Volume 2, Issue 1, Pages 19-27

Phenotypic Analysis of the Chicken Thymic Microenvironment During Ontogenic Development

1Department of Internal Medicine/Rheumatology, School of Medicine TB 192, University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA
2Department of Pathology and Immunology, Monash University Medical School, Melbourne, Australia

Copyright © 1992 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The development of monoclonal antibodies (mAb) reactive with the thymic microenvironment has identified distinct subpopulations within the stromal component, but the function of these subregions in intrathymic T-cell differentiation remains essentially an enigma. In this study, we have used such a panel of mAb to examine the chicken thymus during ontogenic development to gain insight into the contributions of these thymic regions to the distinct phases of T-cell development and to further characterize the development of this organ. Our reagents have demonstrated the complex differentiation of the primitive endodermal epithelium into more specialized structures and the development of other thymic stromal components from mesectodermal cells. We also describe molecules localized to the subcapsular and perivascular regions, which have an ontogenic expression corresponding to the early localization and stimulation of thymic precursors and another molecule on the medullary vasculature expressed corresponding to the exit of mature cells from the thymus. In addition, two markers of distinct medullary epithelial clusters are initially expressed corresponding to the appearance of T-cell receptor-1 (TcR-1) and TcR-2 positive cells in the medulla, respectively. These mAb potentially represent excellent reagents for further definition of the thymic modulation of T-cell differentiation.