2008, pp 255-267

Thymus Transplantation

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Abstract

Thymus transplantation was first attempted in the 1960s and 1970s using fetal thymus tissue [1, 2]. The results overall were disappointing [36]. In part the poor outcomes related to the lack of reagents needed to characterize and identify the patients into those who were truly athymic (complete DiGeorge anomaly) and those who had bone marrow stem cell problems (severe combined immunodeficiency). It is also possible that the fetal thymus tissue was too small to reconstitute a human infant [7]. The use of fetal thymus carried the risk of fatal graft versus host disease since mature T-cells can be found in the human thymus by the end of the first trimester [3]. By 1986, in a review of 26 infants treated with fetal thymus transplantation, 22 had died; the other 4 patients had achieved a 3-year survival [6].