Feedback inhibition of thymic secretory activity in mice treated by the thymic extract TP-1 (thymostimulin)

J. Shoham, E. Ben-David, U. Sandbank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The ultrastructural changes occurring in the medullary epithelium of the thymus of young mice, as a result of repeated injections of a thymic extract, TP-1 (thymostimulin) was investigated. After daily injections of TP-1 for 3 weeks, no changes in thymus architecture could be observed by light microscopy. However, by electron microscopy, specific changes were noticed in the epithelial cells. The secretory granules became dilated and engorged; diameter of granules in normal control thymus was approximately 200-250 nm, but reached 1000 nm in treated mice. Degenerative changes appeared in some of these granules, including myelin bodies, distorted configuration and fat droplets. Signs of involution of whole cells and presence of cellular debri within macrophages were observed. Acid phosphatase staining disclosed many lysosomes containing ingested granules. No such findings were observed in control untreated mice, or in mice treated by a heart extract similarly prepared to TP-1. All these findings can be taken as ultrastructural evidence for feedback inhibition of thymic secretory activity, in anology to the changes occurring in other feedback inhibited, peptide hormone secreting glands. The data indicate that (i) the thymus respond to feedback inhibitory stimuli, as other endocrine glands do; (ii) TP-1, the thymic extract under study, contains a physiologically significant thymic hormone which, when introduced in high doses can exert specific feedback inhibition. This can be taken as an additional, new criterion for the definition of thymic hormones.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-38
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1982
Externally publishedYes


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