MORPHOLOGICAL EVIDENCE FOR THYMOCYTES APOPTOSIS OUTSIDE THE THYMUS
FENG Ji Ming WU Jiang Sheng (Department of Histology and Embryology, Beijing Medical University Beijing 100083,P. R. China)
In vitro thymus explants culture designed in this paper can mimic the thymic microenvi-ronment as it were in vivo. Theoretically,thymus explants are cut off free from blood stream. So if some developing or developed thymocytes had the inclination to migrate into the periphery, they would only be accumulated in the blood vessels within thymus explants. After 3- day's culture, under transmission electron microscope we observed the migrating thymocytes accumulated in the blood vessels of C57BL/6 mice thymus ex-plants, and these thymocytes were occurring apoptosis at different stage. To our knowledge, this findings offers the first morphological evidence that thymocytes do not necessarily die inside the thymus in situ,and that having acquired the death signals thymocytes can migrate into the blood stream and die quickly outside the thymus. But this is not to say that we deny the in-trathymic death hypothesis. On the contrary, we found the number of thymocytes occurring in situ apoptosis on the surfaces of stromal cells is far more than that of migrating into the blood vessels. So,our proposal is that there are two sites for thymocytes apoptosis, some die inside the thymus and the others die outside the thymus.