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09 Mar 2012

IMMUNOLOGY: Stairway to T cell development found in the human tonsil

Central to the effective functioning of the immune system is the presence of a broad repertoire of immune cells known as T cells, which develop in an organ known as the thymus. There is some evidence to suggest that T cells can also develop in tissues other than the thymus, but no complete program of human T cell development has been described in an extrathymic tissue. Now, a team of researchers led by Michael Caligiuri, at The Ohio State University, Columbus, has uncovered clear evidence that a stepwise program of T cell development occurs outside the thymus within the human tonsil. Although it is not clear how significant a contribution T cell development in the tonsil makes to generating the T cell repertoire in healthy individuals, Caligiuri and colleagues suggest that it might be important in the setting of poor thymic function or congenital deficit and in the context of autoimmunity, cancer, or regenerative medicine.

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TITLE: Evidence for a stepwise program of extrathymic T cell development within the human tonsil

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