Author(s): Chu YW, Memon SA, Sharrow SO, Hakim FT, Eckhaus M,
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Abstract Interleukin 7 (IL-7) is critical in maintaining thymic-dependent and thymic-independent pathways of T-cell homeostasis. T-cell receptor (TCR) rearrangement excision circles (TRECs) have been used as markers for recent thymic emigrants (RTEs) in assessing human thymic function. To study the thymic and peripheral effects of IL-7 on RTEs, we measured TREC content and peripheral naive T-cell subsets and turnover in IL-7-treated mice. Short-term administration of IL-7 into thymus-intact mice resulted in increased total TREC numbers, consistent with RTE accumulation. Decreases in TREC frequency were attributable to dilution secondary to increased cell turnover. Significantly, IL-7 administration into thymectomized mice resulted in patterns of decreased TREC frequency and increased total TREC number similar to those in IL-7-treated thymus-intact mice. Distinct patterns of naive cell and RTE distribution among peripheral immune organs and altered expression of CD11a were observed following IL-7 treatment in thymus-intact and thymectomized mice. These results demonstrate (1) that total TREC number and not TREC frequency accurately reflects quantitative changes in RTEs; (2) that short-term IL-7 administration results in preferential accumulations of RTEs among peripheral immune organs, accounting for the increase in TRECs in the total peripheral lymphoid pool; and (3) no evidence for regulation of thymic function by short-term IL-7 administration.
This article was published in Blood
and referenced in Journal of Cell Science & Therapy