Interest in the ontogeny of mammalian lymphocytes goes back long before the discovery of the importance of lymphocyte populations in immune responses. It is remarkable that scientists were prepared to spend so much time and effort in studying the origins of lymphocytes in the developing thymus for example, when the function of the thymus was completely unknown (Hammar, 1905). Perhaps it is even more remarkable that these studies generated such strong feelings. The main techniques used were essentially histological and, therefore, it was inevitable that there would be disagreement about the interpretation of the results. The issues must have been purely academic since lymphocytes were of unknown function. People working in this field had an interest which extended beyond the question of the origin of lymphocytes and in general they were concerned about the origins and interrelationships of all blood cell types. Indeed, it had already been postulated that all blood cells were derived from the same basic cell type—the hemopoietic stem cell (Maximow, 1924). This notion has been confirmed in recent years and, in retrospect, it can be seen that these early studies were rightly directed to the broader issues of hemopoiesis in general.
KeywordsFetal Liver Thymic Epithelial Cell Hemopoietic Stem Cell Adult Bone Marrow Lymphocyte Differentiation
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