Reappearance of the thymus in old rats after orchidectomy: inhibition of regeneration by testosterone

in Journal of Endocrinology
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The thymus is a critically important organ during development, but atrophies progressively during the ageing process after puberty and is often considered to be unimportant in adult life. We have found that the thymus, which is grossly atrophied in 12- to 15-month-old male rats, is markedly restored in size 30 days after orchidectomy. The organ then appears normal histologically, having a well-defined cortex and medulla, is vascularized and filled with thymocytes. The regeneration of the thymus after orchidectomy was inhibited in a dose–related fashion by testosterone implants which produced serum concentrations of testosterone within the physiological range. The thymus was also increased in size after orchidectomy of 10-week-old rats, and testosterone inhibited the enlargement of the thymus. These results have important implications for the possible enhancement of the immune system with associated improvement of health during ageing and disease. They also point to an important physiological link between the endocrine and immune systems.

J. Endocr. (1986) 110, 417–422


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