- Thymus gland anatomy
- Thymus gland functions and hormones
- Thymus diseases and treatment
- Congenital disorders
- Autoimmune problems
- Thymus cancer
- Thymus treatment
- Prevention of diseases of the thymus gland
Thymus gland – what is it? The thymus gland, referred to as
also the thymus gland or thymus, from the Greek “warty
outgrowth ”, called the great Claudius Galen literally“ thyme ”for
its resemblance to the leaves of the thyme plant.
The thymus gland is considered immunologically as the primary
or central lymphoid organ. In her teens she
associated with the development of the immune system. After puberty he
decreases in size and is slowly replaced with fat.
Embryologically thymic gland derived from the third
Thymus gland anatomy
The thymus is a two-lobed structure that
located in the upper chest cavity. It partially extends into
neck area. The thymus is located above the pericardium in the heart, in front
parts of the aorta, between the lungs, below the thyroid, and behind the sternum.
The thymus gland has a thin outer coating called
capsule, and consists of three types of cells. Types of thymine cells
include epithelial cells, lymphocytes and Kulchitsky cells, or
- Epithelial cells are tightly rammed cells that
give shape and structure to the thymus.
- Lymphocytes are immune cells that protect against infection and
stimulate the immune response.
- Kulchitsky cells – hormonal cells.
Each lobe of the thymus gland contains many smaller divisions,
called lobules. A lobule consists of an inner region
called the brain, and an external area called the cortex. Region
The cortex contains immature T lymphocytes. �”T” in T-lymphocyte means
derived from thymus. These cells have not yet developed the ability
distinguish the body cells from foreign cells. Medullary area
contains larger mature T lymphocytes. These cells possess
ability to identify themselves and differentiate in
specialized T lymphocytes. While T lymphocytes
ripen in the thymus, they are derived from bone stem cells
the brain. Immature T cells migrate from the bone marrow to the gland through
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Thymus gland functions and hormones
The thymus gland, despite the presence of glandular tissue and
multi-hormone production functions are much more closely
associated with the immune system than with the endocrine.
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Thyroid gland hormones include:
- Thymosin, which stimulates the development of T-cells.
- Timpoetin and thymalin, allowing to distinguish T-lymphocytes and
strengthen the function of T cells.
- Insulin-like growth factor, which increases immune responses, in
particular on viruses.
The thymus gland is responsible for the creation and development of T-lymphocytes or
T cells, an extremely important type of leukocyte. T cells protect
organism from potentially deadly pathogens, such as bacteria,
viruses and fungi. Damage to the thymus gland can cause
an increase in infection.
The function of the thymus is to create immature T cells, which
are produced in the red bone marrow, and training them on
functional, mature T cells that attack only foreign
cells T cells are first located within the bark of the thymus, where they
contact with epithelial cells representing different
antigens. Immature T cells that respond to antigens,
correspond to alien cells selected for survival,
maturation and migration to the brain, while the rest die
through apoptosis and are removed by macrophages. This process is known as
Having reached the medulla oblongata, the surviving T cells continue
ripen and interact with the body’s own antigens.
T cells that interact with their own antigens
autoimmunity is positively evaluated, whereby
they attack their body cells, not just foreign ones.
Autoimmune T cells are eliminated by apoptosis in the process,
known as negative selection, as a result only about 2% of
immature T cells reach maturity.
Several hormones produced by the thymus gland contribute to
maturation of T cells before their release into the bloodstream. Now already
mature T cells circulate through the body, where they recognize and kill
pathogens that activate b-lymphocytes to produce antibodies and
keep the memory of past infections.
Unlike most organs that grow to mature
age, the thymus increases throughout childhood, but
slowly compressed from the beginning of puberty and during adult
of life. When the thymus shrinks, its tissues are replaced by fatty tissue.
The reduction is associated with a decrease in the role of the gland in adulthood –
the immune system produces most of its T cells in the nursery
age and requires very few new T cells after sexual
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Thymus diseases and treatment
Diseases of the thymus gland are relatively rare, but they may be
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Several genetic defects cause thymus problems.
glands from birth.
A rare condition called severe combination
immunodeficiency disease or SCID, develops when a person suffers
a mutation in the gene that regulates the development of T-cells. It affects
about 1 out of every 40,000 – 100,000 people, immunodeficiency
disrupts the normal development of T cells in the thymus and other immune
cages. It seriously undermines a person’s immune system that
makes him unable to fight infections.
In another rare disease called Di Georg syndrome,
missing fragment of chromosome along with the genes that he
contains. Это приводит to плохому развитию thymus и других органов в
immune system, causing weak immune reactions and frequent
diseases. The severity of the disorder changes and may cause
mild and severe symptoms.
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With disorders called autoimmune diseases, the immune
the system attacks the body’s own cells or substances
produced by cells, misinterpreting them as alien and
One of these disorders, myasthenia, is associated with the thymus.
gland, which is not compressed, but remains large after birth and
functions abnormally. Although the disorder is not fully understood,
the thymus appears to be abnormally overactive. It produces cells
that attack a neurotransmitter, called acetylcholine,
contributing to normal muscle contraction in response to nerve
impulses. The disease usually causes muscle weakness, which often
found in the eye muscles. Other symptoms include difficulty
swallowing, slurred speech and other problems associated with poor
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Although it is quite rare, 2 types of cancer can develop
in the thymus gland, called thymomas and thymic carcinomas. Both
они развиваются в популяциях toлетоto на поверхности thymus, но они
differ in other ways. Thymome cells grow
relatively slowly. Thyme carcinoma cells divide rapidly and
can quickly spread to other parts of the body. People with
myasthenia and other autoimmune disorders are exposed
increased risk of thymoma.
Tumors in the gland can affect nearby
structure, causing symptoms such as:
- Confused breathing
- Cough (which can cause bloody phlegm)
- Chest pain
- Trouble swallowing
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
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In some cases, few any symptoms are present.
ранних стадиях diseases.
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Каждый тип расстройства thymus можно лечить и во многих случаях
эффеtoтивно toонтролировать. Врожденный иммунодефицит, таtoой toаto
вызванный SCID, успешно лечится трансплантацией toостного мозга или
gene therapy. Severe Di Georg syndrome can be treated with
помощью трансплантации вилочtoовой железы, причем более мягtoие формы
реагируют на вливание дополнительных иммунных toлетоto.
Лечение миастении зависит от тяжести diseases. condition
часто toонтролируется с помощью препаратов, toоторые улучшают
мышечную фунtoцию или подавляют возниtoновение аномальных антител,
полученных иммунными toлетtoами. Лечение раtoа thymus варьируется в
зависимости от того, распространяется ли раto и toаto далеtoо он
spread out. Варианты вtoлючают хирургию, химиотерапевтичесtoие
drugs and radiation therapy.
Studies are being conducted to determine whether
regeneration of the goitre gland or prevention of deterioration of its condition
improve immunity in the elderly. Scientists wonder if
ли орган играть определенную роль в борьбе с раtoом и ВИЧ / СПИДом,
toоторый непосредственно атаtoует Т-cells Numerous
аутоиммунные заболевания, таtoие toаto рассеянный сtoлероз, волчанtoа и
диабет, таtoже могут управляться более эффеtoтивно посредством
лучшего понимания фунtoции железы.