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Developmental Immunology
Volume 6 (1998), Issue 1-2, Pages 71-79

Bidirectional Interactions Between Thymocytes and Thymic Epithelial Cell Lines in Vitro

1Institute of Medical Research, MMA, Belgrade, Serbia
2Institute of Medical Research, MMA, Crnotravska 17, Belgrade 11002, Serbia

Received 5 August 1996; Accepted 15 July 1997

Copyright © 1998 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.


In vitro interactions of thymocytes and thymocyte hybridomas with cortical (R-TNC.1) and medullary (TE-R 2.5) rat thymic epithelial-cell (TEC) lines were studied. It was found that the cortical line had better adhesion capability. It bound exclusively immature CD4+CD8+αβTCR10 thymocytes, induced apoptosis of a subset of these cells, and stimulhted proliferation of the BWRT (CD4-CD8-αβTCR-) hybridoma. The medullary line bound both immature and mature thymocytes, decreased their apoptosis, and induced apoptosis of the BWRT 8 (CD4+CD810αβTCRhi) hybridoma. Thymocyte differently modulated cytokine production by TEC lines, upregulating the secretion of IL-1 by R-TNC.1 and IL-6 by TE-R 2.5 cells. Finally, coculture of thymocytes with TEC lines resulted in different patterns of protein-tyrosine phosphorylation in thymocytes. These results show the existence of mutual bidirectional interactions between thymocytes and TEC lines in vitro, but these processes differed depending on phenotypic characteristics and origin of TEC lines used.