Ontogeny of intrinsic innervation in the human thymus and spleen

Valsamo K. Anagnostou, Ipatia Doussis-Anagnostopoulou, Dina G. Tiniakos, Despina Karandrea, Emmanouil Agapitos, Petros Karakitsos, Christos Kittas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The ontogeny of the innervation of human lymphoid organs has not been studied in detail. Our aim was to assess the nature and distribution of parenchymal nerves in human fetal thymus and spleen. We used the peroxidase immunohistochemical technique with antibodies specific to neuron-specific enolase (NSE), neurofilaments (NF), PGP9.5, S100 protein, and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and evaluated our results with image analysis. In human fetal thymus, NSE-, NF-, S100-, PGP9.5-, and TH-positive nerves were identified associated with large blood vessels from 18 gestational weeks (gw) onwards, increasing in density during development. Their branches penetrated the septal areas at 20 gw, reaching the cortex and the corticomedullary junction between 20 and 23 gw. Few nerve fibers were seen in the medulla in close association with Hassall's corpuscles. In human fetal spleen, NSE-, NF-, S100-, PGP9.5-, and TH-positive nerve fibers were localized in the connective tissue surrounding the splenic artery at 18 gw. Perivascular NSE-, NF-, S100-, PGP9.5-, and TH-positive nerve fibers were seen extending into the white pulp, mainly in association with the central artery and its branches, increasing in density during gestation. Scattered NSE-, NF-, S100-, PGP9.5-, and TH-positive nerve fibers and endings were localized in the red pulp from 18 gw onward. The predominant perivascular distribution of most parenchymal nerves implies that thymic and splenic innervation may play an important functional role during intrauterine life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)813-820
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry
Volume55
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2007
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Fetal
  • Human
  • Image analysis
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Innervation
  • Spleen
  • Thymus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology

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  • Cite this

    Anagnostou, V. K., Doussis-Anagnostopoulou, I., Tiniakos, D. G., Karandrea, D., Agapitos, E., Karakitsos, P., & Kittas, C. (2007). Ontogeny of intrinsic innervation in the human thymus and spleen. Journal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry, 55(8), 813-820. https://doi.org/10.1369/jhc.6A7168.2007