Thymic Peptides: Transmitters Between the Neuroendocrine and the Immune System

  • Mireille Dardenne
  • Bared Safieh-Garabedian
  • Jean-Marie Pleau


Synthesized within the thymus, thymic peptides comprise a heterogenous family of polypeptidic hormones, that exerts important regulatory effects within the immune and the neuroendocrine systems. These peptides are themselves subject to control by hormones derived from the hypothalamo-pituitary axis and other endocrine glands. Regarding thymic hormonal function, thymulin production is upregulated by several hormones, including prolactin, growth hormone and thyroid hormones. Other aspects of thymic epithelial cell (’l’EC) physiology can also be modulated by hormones and neuropeptides, particularly cytokeratin expression, cell growth and production of extracellular matrix proteins, thus characterizing the pleiotropic action of these molecules on the thymic epithelium. Conversely, thymic derived peptides also regulate hormone release from the hypothalamo-pituitary axis and may act directly on target endocrine glands of this axis, modulating gonadal tissues. In addition, it has recently been shown that thymulin can modulate some peripheral nervous sensory functions, including those related to sensitivity to pain. According to the dose given, thymulin induces or reduces hyperalgesia related to both mechanical and thermal nociceptors and thus represents an important interface between the immune, endocrine and nervous systems.

Key words

Thymus Thymic epithelial cells Thymic peptides Thymulin Pituitary hormones Pain 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mireille Dardenne
    • 1
  • Bared Safieh-Garabedian
    • 2
  • Jean-Marie Pleau
    • 1
  1. 1.CNRS UMR 8603 – Université Paris VHôpital NeckerParisFrance
  2. 2.Department of Biology, Faculty of Arts and ScienceAmerican University of BeirutBeirutLebanon

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