We have achieved a comprehensive immunotopographic mapping of human thymus by using a large battery of monoclonal antibodies and the methodological refinement of comparative serial tissue section immunohistochemistry, allowing analysis of multiple phenotypes in the same tissue site. Previous immunohistochemical studies of thymus have concentrated on the majority T-cell and epithelial cell populations. Besides demonstrating the complexity of T-cell antigenic expression (e.g., simultaneous cortical expression of Leu 2, Leu 3, CALLA, Tdt, and Leu 6), we delineate surprisingly complex B-cell zones (e.g., septal B-follicles with DRC+C3d+ dendritic cells and zonal maturation of B-cells). Whereas septal B-follicles were found in 25% of cases, medullary B-cells were universally present as a substantial minority component. This expanded immunotopographic knowledge of the complex T-, B-, epithelial, and reticulum cell neighborhoods suggests that the thymus is an organ capable of a broad repertoire of immunological responses, not limited to C-cell development.
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