The thymus plays a crucial role in the development and maintenance of the immune system, being the main site of T cell differentiation and maturation throughout life. Associated to dramatic structural changes, its function seems to markedly diminish with time, never the less, there are several data indicating that, despite organ atrophy, at least part of the thymus remains active throughout one's lifetime. In the last decades, several studies, aiming to understand the significance of age-dependent changes in thymic structure and function, highlighted the concept that developmental and maturational stages strongly depend on the balanced and coordinated occurrence of life and death options. In particular, programmed cell death represents a fundamental requirement in order to assure a proper functionality of the immune response and to avoid the formation of uncontrolled and potentially self-damaging lymphocytic clones. By contrast, the time-dependent thymic atrophy is due to progressive replacing of lymphoid with adipose tissue. In the light of the increased knowledge on the factors/mechanisms controlling the process of adipogenesis, it could be suggested that fat accumulation in the thymic stroma might not be considered a passive, deleterious consequence of aging, but instead a potential source of molecules with various biological functions. Therefore, thymus represents a very interesting model in terms of energy expenditure and trade off, tissue homeostasis, immune defence and disease escape. The implications of changes in thymic structure, in the ratio of proliferation and programmed cell death as well as the occurrence of fat involution still represent an open question and will be discussed in the present chapter.
|Data di pubblicazione:||2014|
|Titolo:||Thymic maturation and programmed cell death|
|Autori:||Quaglino, Daniela; Accorsi, Alice; Boraldi, Federica; Ottaviani, Enzo|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||10.1007/978-94-017-8712-3_6|
|Titolo del libro:||Eco-immunology. Evolutive aspects and future perspectives.|
|Tutti i curatori:||Malagoli, D.; Ottaviani, E.|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||Capitolo/Saggio|
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