Ultrastructure of medullary thymic epithelial cells of autoimmune regulator (Aire)-deficient mice

Ẑivana Milićević, Novica M. Milićević, Martti Laan, Pärt Peterson, Kai Kisand, Hamish S. Scott, Jürgen Westermann

9 Citations (Scopus)


The significance of the autoimmune regulator (Aire) transcription regulator in establishing central tolerance has recently been elucidated in great detail. Still, the role of Aire in medullary thymic epithelial cell (mTEC) physiology is not fully understood. To shed more light on this issue, we studied the ultrastructure of mTECs in Aire-deficient thymus. We show that all types of mTECs show ultrastructural signs of activation and increased intracellular traffic, which suggests that in the absence of Aire their physiology is impaired. Type 6 'large' mTECs are fully developed in Aire-deficient mice and more frequent than in the normal thymus. The frequency of type 5 'undifferentiated' mTECs is also increased. Collectively, our results suggest that the role of Aire in the physiology of mTECs could be more profound and not restricted only to the presentation of self-tissue-restricted antigens and/or apoptosis of end-stage fully mature cell types.

Original languageEnglish
JournalImmunology and Cell Biology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)50-56
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 01.2010

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)


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