Research ArticleTHYMUS

Production of BMP4 by endothelial cells is crucial for endogenous thymic regeneration

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Science Immunology  12 Jan 2018:
Vol. 3, Issue 19, eaal2736
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aal2736

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Regeneration circuits in the thymus

Chemotherapy and radiation treatments in cancer patients damage a number of tissues and organs, including the thymus. Prolonged thymic damage can lead to T cell deficiency and increase susceptibility to the development of opportunistic infections and malignancies. Here, Wertheimer et al. have examined thymic regeneration in mice after sublethal total body radiation and document a critical role for bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4) signaling in thymic regeneration. They found endothelial cells to be a critical source of BMP4 and propose that BMP4 produced by endothelial cells induces the expression of the transcription factor FOXN1 in thymic epithelial cells to promote thymic regeneration. These studies should eventually facilitate the development of treatment regimens to promote immune competence in patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments.