The levels of spontaneous apoptosis and proliferation of the rat thymic and spleen cells, as well as their regulation by the hypothalamo-hypophysial system were studied during perinatal development. The apoptotic and proliferating cells in the thymus and spleen were assayed using flow cytometry with the DNA-specific dye propidium iodide. The level of apoptosis in the thymus reached 25% on day 18 of embryogenesis (E18) and decreased to 5% thereafter. In the spleen, the level of apoptosis gradually increased from 15 to 37% during the period of E18 to day 30 of postnatal development (P30). The level of proliferating cells in the thymus was 20–25% at all developmental stages studied. In the spleen, it was at a maximum on E18 (32%) and decreased almost twice on E21 (17%). On P7, the amount of proliferating cells again increased to 22% and then gradually decreased to 7% by P30. The surgical ablation of hypothalamus in utero on E18 did not affect cell apoptosis or proliferation in the thymus and spleen. The surgical ablation of both hypothalamus and pituitary led a twofold decrease of the level of apoptosis in the spleen and insignificant increase of the level of proliferation in the thymus. Thus, the numbers of cells in the embryonic thymus is regulated not only by the thymus itself, but also by the hypothalamo-hypophysial system. The programmed cell death in the embryonic spleen appears to be regulated by the hypothalamo-hypophysial system as well.
Russian Journal of Developmental Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 17, 2006
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