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Fine structure of the epithelial reticular cells of the medulla of the thymus in the golden hamster

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The epithelial reticular cells of the thymic medulla of the golden hamster were studied by electron microscopy. On the basis of their structural details two cell types are distinguished, although the two types are similar in basic structure. The cells of one type are more extended in shape and darker in appearance. They are connected with one another by their cytoplasmic processes, forming a reticulum in the medulla. Thus they appear to play a supporting role as do the cortical epithelial reticular cells. The other cell type is larger, more rounded and lighter. The characteristic feature of this cell type is an abundance of vesicular structures, which occur as vesicles or vacuoles of varying sizes. In addition, an enormous, intracytoplasmic ciliated cyst is occasionally encountered in the latter cell type. The cyst may be regarded as representing a specialized form of the vesicular structures. The possible functional significance of the latter cell type is discussed in relation to recent concepts concerning the mechanism of thymic function.

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Dedicated to Professor W. Bargmann, under whose guidance my thymus studies were begun, in honor of his 60th birthday (T. Ito).

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Ito, T., Hoshino, T. Fine structure of the epithelial reticular cells of the medulla of the thymus in the golden hamster. Z.Zellforsch 69, 311–318 (1966). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00406283

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  • Electron Microscopy
  • Characteristic Feature
  • Fine Structure
  • Specialized Form
  • Basic Structure