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Developmental Immunology
Volume 4 (1995), Issue 3, Pages 211-226

T-Cell Development in Early Partially Decapitated Chicken Embryos

1Centro Nacional de Microbiología, Virología Inmunología Sanitarias, Instituto de Satud Carlos III, Majadahonda, Madrid 28220, Spain
2Department of Cell Biology, Faculty of Biology, Complutense University, Madrid 28040, Spain

Copyright © 1995 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.


We have evaluated the immunohistological and cytofluorometric changes that occur in the thymus of chicken embryos partially decapitated at 33-38 hr of incubation (DCx embryos) in an attempt to analyze possible neuroendocrinological influences on T-cell differentiation and, indirectly, the ontogeny of the so-called neuroendocrine-immune network. The thymus of DCx embryos shows important variations that profoundly and selectively affect different T-cell subsets, but not the nonlymphoid cell components of thymic stroma. These modifications include the accumulation of cell precursors, mainly DN (CD4- CD8-) cells and immature CD8high CD4- cells, which expand but do not differentiate, resulting in an extreme decline of both DP (CD4+ CD8+) cells and TcR c-expressing cells. Accordingly, both subcapsulary and outer cortex increase in size, whereas the deep cortex and principally the thymic medulla almost disappear in DCx embryos. In contrast, other T-cell subsets of DCx embryos, largely CDgglowCD4- cells and TcR γδ-expressing cells do not undergo significant variations throughout thymic ontogeny.