Surface markers on thymocytes

Although epithelial cells are a major component of the thymus in sections, thymic cell suspensions consist almost entirely of lymphoid cells. On the basis of CD4 and CDS expression, thymocytes comprise four broad subsets of cells. The bulk of thymocytes (80-85%) consist of immature cortical CD4~81 cells expressing variable levels of the a(3 TCR; most of these cells are small resting lymphocytes but 10-20% are blast cells. Mature SP cells account for about 15% of thymocytes and comprise a 2:1 ratio of resting CD4+8" and CD4~8+ cells; most (though not all) of these cells display high levels of the a3 TCR. The remaining cells (1-3%) are CD4~8 and comprise a heterogeneous collection of cells, most of which act as immature precursors of CD4'8' cells.

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