Phenotypic variation of thymic epithelial cells and partial spontaneous regression in thymoma of a cow
- S. Ohfuji
- Comparative Clinical Pathology
We have studied myoid cells in normal and myasthenic thymuses as well as in thymomas. For the presence of neuroendocrine markers-producing cells and identification of synaptophysin (Syn) the immunohistochemical method and immunoblot analysis were used. Myoid cells can be demonstrated in the thymus of myasthenic patients in high number. These cells occur in the vicinity of Hassall's bodies but also within them. Some regenerated Hassall's bodies displayed majority of myoid cells with their concentric arrangement around the centrally situated lacunar-like cell with nuclei of monocytogenic origin. Such phenomenon may suggest cooperation of myoid cells and their epithelial transitional forms with monocytogenic cells in various thymic hormone production. It is likely that myoid cells are the source of some thymic epithelial cells. According to some authors, thymomatous epithelial cells and skeletal muscle share a common epitope defined by a monoclonal antibody (mAb), whereas thymic epithelial cells possess acetylocholine receptor (AChR) on their surface. The epithelial cells of some thymomas express also desmin. In normal thymuses of children, Syn and chromogranin A (Chg A) were demonstrated in some cells of Hassall's bodies by immunohistochemical method. In addition, antibodies to Syn stained nerve structures surrounding the thymic blood vessels. In myasthenic thymuses, Syn expression was in cortical and medullary epithelial cells, in myoid cells and only scanty and focal in keratinized epithelial cells of Hassall's bodies. The epithelial cells of some thymomas also express Syn. In some thymuses of all groups investigated in this study Chg A was seen in single cells of Hassall's bodies and focally in cortical epithelial cells. Our results show that in normal thymuses of cardiac surgery patients and in the adult myasthenic thymuses antibody raised against Syn recognized protein with molecular weight of 48,000 but not normal (38,000) Syn. It remains to be elucidated if the overexpression of synaptophysin-like protein in myasthenic thymuses is a compensatory phenomenon to the defect in normal synaptic function.