We have examined the expression of a panel of cytokines in thymic epithelial cells and CD4-CD8- (DN) thymocytes following cell to cell lymphostromal interaction, in an experimental model which enhances in vitro thymocyte maturation. Since retinoic acid (RA) has been previously shown to be an inhibitor of thymocyte maturation process in this model, we wanted to analyse cytokine expression in DN thymocytes and thymic epithelial cells following the RA-induced impairment of in vitro thymocyte maturation. Cell to cell lymphostromal interaction results in increased IL2 and decreased IL7 expression in thymocytes while the expression of IL1β and IL7 increased and decreased, respectively, in thymic epithelial cells. Addition of RA to lympho-stromal cell co-culture results in the enhancement of IL4 and IL7 expression in thymocytes while in thymic epithelial cells IL1α decreased and IL6 and IL7 increased. These data indicate that discrete patterns of cytokine expression are present in thymocyte precursors and in thymic epithelial cells during in vitro T-cell development. They furthermore suggest that specific cytokine modulation might contribute to the RA-induced impairment of thymocyte differentiation.
- Retinoic acid
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