Cellular and Nerve Fibre Catecholaminergic Thymic Network: Steroid Hormone Dependent Activity
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The thymus plays a critical role in establishing and maintaining the peripheral T-cell pool. It does so by providing a microenvironment within which T-cell precursors differentiate and undergo selection processes to create a functional population of major histocompatibility complex-restricted, self-tolerant T cells. These cells are central to adaptive immunity. Thymic T-cell development is influenced by locally produced soluble factors and cell-to-cell interactions, as well as by sympathetic noradrenergic and endocrine system signalling. Thymic lymphoid and non-lymphoid cells have been shown not only to express beta- and alpha(1)-adrenoceptors (ARs), but also to synthesize catecholamines (CAs). Thus, it is suggested that CAs influence T-cell development via both neurocrine/endocrine and autocrine/paracrine action, and that they serve as immunotransmitters between thymocytes and nerves. CAs acting at multiple sites along the thymocyte developmental route affect T-cell generation not onl...y numerically, but also qualitatively. Thymic CA level and synthesis, as well as AR expression exhibit sex steroid-mediated sexual dimorphism. Moreover, the influence of CAs on T-cell development exhibits glucocorticoid-dependent plasticity. This review summarizes recent findings in this field and our current understanding of complex and multifaceted neuroendocrine-immune communications at thymic level.
Keywords:Thymus / Catecholamines / Adrenoceptors / Sexual dimorphism / Glucocorticoids
Source:Physiological Research, 2011, 60, SUPPL.1
- Acad Sciences Czech Republic, Inst Physiology, Prague 4