The human thymus: A new perspective on thymic function, aging, and HIV infection

C. M. Steffens, G. Marchetti, A. Landay, L. Al-Harthi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Shortly after birth, the human thymus begins a life long process of involution, whereby the net size of the thymus is not altered but the organ is replaced by adipose tissue. As a result, it has long been believed that thymic involution is indicative of a nonfunctional organ. Recently, however, with the use of computed tomography analysis and innovative molecular approaches that measure T-cell receptor circles, indicative of recent thymic emigrants, doubt has been placed on that dogma. The thymus appears to be active in thymopoiesis throughout the adult life, albeit inversely correlated with age. Being faced with diseases that deplete T-cells such as the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), this recent finding has the potential to exploit novel approaches that enhance thymic output as a mechanism to reconstitute the immune system. In this review, we will revisit the role of T-cells in immunity, the relationship between thymic function and age, and closely examine the impact of HIV-mediated thymic dysregulation on thymopoiesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65+72-79
JournalClinical Immunology Newsletter
Issue number6-7
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy


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