Jun 1, 1989

Epithelial cell heterogeneity in mammalian thymus: monoclonal antibody to high molecular weight keratins exclusively binds to Hassall's corpuscles

The Histochemical Journal
J F NicolasJ Thivolet


Hassall's corpuscles represent a subset of medullary thymic epithelial cells whose origin and function within the thymus still remain largely unknown. The present study shows that Hassall's corpuscles can be defined by their intracellular content in specific keratin subunits. Two monoclonal anti-keratin antibodies were used: KL1, directed to high molecular weight keratins, and KL4, specific for high and medium molecular weight polypeptides. In vivo, KL1 exclusively binds to Hassall's corpuscles of five mammalian species including mouse, rat, guinea-pig, rabbit and pig. Thus KL1 appears as an exclusive marker of Hassall's corpuscles in a large number of mammals. In vitro, thymic epithelial cells gave rise in certain species to Hassall's corpuscles. In contrast to its in vivo reactivity, KL1 never labelled Hassall's corpuscles developed in vitro. These data strongly support the following conclusions: (1) Hassall's corpuscles derive from medullary epithelial cells; (2) they represent advanced stages of thymic epithelial maturation; (3) thymic epithelial cell differentiation is impaired in vitro. Furthermore, this study provides additional evidence that thymic epithelium heterogeneity reflects different stages in epithelial maturat...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Monoclonal Antibodies
Immunofluorescence Assay
Neoplasm of Uncertain or Unknown Behavior of Thymus
Squamous Transitional Epithelial Cell Count
August Rats
Disease of Thymus Gland

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