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The thymus constitutes the primary lymphoid organ for the generation of T cells. Its function is particularly susceptible to various negative influences ranging from age-related involution to atrophy as a consequence of malnutrition, infection or harmful iatrogenic influences such as chemotherapy and radiation. The loss of regular thymus function significantly increases the risk for infections and cancer because of a restricted capacity for immune surveillance. In recent years, thymus-stimulatory, thymus-regenerative, and thymus-protective strategies have been developed to enhance and repair thymus function in the elderly and in individuals undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. These strategies include the use of sex steroid ablation, the administration of growth and differentiation factors, the inhibition of p53, and the transfer of T cell progenitors to alleviate the effects of thymus dysfunction and consequent T cell deficiency.

Original publication

DOI

10.1016/j.coph.2010.04.008

Type

Journal article

Journal

Curr Opin Pharmacol

Publication Date

08/2010

Volume

10

Pages

443 - 453

Keywords

Aging, Androgen Antagonists, Animals, Antineoplastic Agents, Atrophy, Graft vs Host Disease, Growth Hormone, Humans, Infection, Malnutrition, Radiotherapy, Somatomedins, T-Lymphocytes, Thymus Gland