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A comparative immunohistochemical study of aplastic thymuses for lymphocytic, epithelial, proliferative and apoptotic indices

Author(s): Mahjoub F. | Haghighatnejad | M. | Movaheddi

Journal: Tehran University Medical Journal
ISSN 1683-1764

Volume: 65;
Issue: 10;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: Aplastic thymus | epithelial | lymphocytic and apoptotic markers | immunohistoc-hemistry

Background: Immune deficiency is one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality in the modern world. Primary immunodeficiency comprises a wide range of disorders that mainly manifest in early childhood as devastating infections with opportunistic organisms. Thymic aplasia is found on autopsy of some patients afflicted with immune deficiency disorders, such as DiGeorge syndrome and severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). After a thorough search of the literature, we found little information on the cellular characteristics of these thymuses. Our study aims to elucidate role of apoptosis in the pathogenesis of thymic aplasia and compare various lymphocytic and epithelial markers in normal and aplastic thymuses. Methods: We selected 12 subjects who died of severe infections with aplastic thymus found on autopsy, and 11 control subjects who died of unrelated causes, such as congenital heart disease. The presence of several markers, including Bcl2, P53, lymphocytic markers, and CD68, was examined using immunohistochemical methods on paraffin-embedded thymus sections. Positively-stained cells were counted per 1000 cells and the results stated as percentage of positive cells.                        Results: The mean age of the control group was between 7 days to 18 months (mean: 4.5 months). Parental consanguinity was present in 45.5% and 9.1% of the control and case groups, respectively; however, this was not statistically significant. We found significantly lower expression of Bcl2 in the case group (p value: 0.038). Furthermore, expression of CD68 was significantly higher in the case group. Epithelial markers were significantly higher in case subjects, although CD8 expression was higher in the control group. The presence of other markers was not significantly different between the two groups.Conclusions: Increase in apoptosis has a role in aplastic thymuses and prevention of apoptosis may halt this process. Also high CD68 expression denotes increased phagocytic activity in aplastic thymuses.

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