Cortisone-resistant thymocytes (CRT) have been used as the experimental equivalent of medullary thymocytes for the past 15 yr. Studies with CRT have provided evidence that the medullary population is similar to mature T cells in phenotype and function and may therefore be the major source of thymus emigrants. However, we have recently demonstrated that CRT differ from medullary thymocytes in their expression of the homing receptor molecule recognized by the monoclonal antibody MEL-14. Thus, many CRT express high levels of the MEL-14-defined homing receptor, whereas medullary thymocytes are MEL-14- to MEL-14lo. In normal adult mice, only 1 to 3% of thymocytes are MEL-14hi; these cells are located exclusively in the cortex and many are phenotypically and functionally mature. In this study we have used dual immunofluorescence techniques to further characterize those thymocytes resistant to cortisone treatment. Aside from being of mature phenotype with respect to expression of peanut agglutinin binding sites and the cell surface molecules H-2K, Ly-1, Lyt-2, and L3T4, CRT can be divided into MEL-14lo and MEL-14hi subpopulations, suggesting that they may actually be derived from both the medullary and the MEL-14hi cortical thymocyte subsets.

This content is only available via PDF.