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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Distinct expression of cyclooxygenase-1 and -2 in the human thymus.

Cyclooxygenase (COX)-1 and -2 catalyze the formation of prostaglandins (PG). Given the role of COX and PG during intrathymic T cell development in the mouse, we investigated the expression and localization of these isozymes in the human thymus. mRNA and proteins correspondent to COX-1 and -2 were observed from whole thymus extracts. By immunohistochemistry, COX-2 was selectively localized in the medulla and it was predominant in a subset of stromal cells. By contrast, COX-1 was diffusely and exclusively present in the cortex, both in thymocytes at early stages of differentiation and in cytokeratin-positive epithelial cells, as demonstrated by double immunostaining and flow cytometry analysis. COX-2-positive cells in the medulla expressed cytokeratin and HLA-DR molecules, but they were negative for dendritic or macrophagic antigens. In addition, COX-2-positive cells expressed both the epidermal growth factor receptor and its ligand, the transforming growth factor-alpha. The inducible isoform of the PGE(2) synthase was also present in the same cells, while was absent from COX-1-expressing cells of the cortex. Finally, electron microscopy confirmed that COX-2 was mainly localized in the cytoplasm of cytokeratin-positive cells, along the rough endoplasmic reticulum. In conclusion, COX-2 and the inducible isoform of PGE(2) synthase appear to be constitutively and selectively present in medullary epithelial cells of the human thymus, whereas COX-1 is predominantly present in the thymic cortex, both in the stroma and in developing thymocytes.[1]


  1. Distinct expression of cyclooxygenase-1 and -2 in the human thymus. Rocca, B., Maggiano, N., Habib, A., Petrucci, G., Gessi, M., Fattorossi, A., Lauriola, L., Landolfi, R., Ranelletti, F.O. Eur. J. Immunol. (2002) [Pubmed]
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