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Developmental Immunology
Volume 3 (1994), Issue 4, Pages 247-256

Reconstitution Properties of Thymus Stem Cells in Murine Fetal Liver

Department of Molecular Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Received 8 March 1993; Accepted 5 August 1993

Copyright © 1994 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.


Injection of day-12 murine fetal liver cells into thymus lobes of Thy-1 congenic adult recipients results in a wave of thymocyte development. The kinetics of repopulation by donor cells reaches a peak after 20–25 days. The frequency of thymic stem cells (TSC) in day-12 fetal liver was estimated, by limit dilution, as 1 in 4x104 cells. Within 8 hr of injection into a thymus lobe, fetal liver TSC commit to T-cell development, losing stem-cell activity. When fetal liver cells are maintained in culture for 7 days, with no exogenous cytokines added, and then injected intra-thymically (I.T.), thymus recolonization is not observed. However, TSC can be maintained in culture for 7 days with IL-1β, IL-3, IL-6, or LIF added, alone or in combination, with steel factor (SLF). Poisson analysis of fetal liver cells cultured with SLF and IL-3 together revealed a precursor frequency of 1 in 1.8x 105 cells. In contrast, the frequency of TSC in adult bone marrow was estimated by limit dilution as 1 in 12,000 cells.