Immunological restoration of 45-day old, neonatally thymectomized C3Hf mice by treatment with humoral thymic function (thymoma grafts, thymus or thymoma in diffusion chambers) ranges from 0 to 12% and is difficult to acheive. When small numbers (5–20 x 106) of young adult lymphohemopoietic cells, ineffective by themselves, are given in association with humoral thymic function, a cooperative effect is observed and restoration ranges from 30 to 60%. With a particular cell dosage (20 x 106), effectivity for cooperation with thymic function was the following in decreasing order: spleen, lymph nodes, thoracic duct cells, bone marrow, blood leukocytes, thymus, and Peyer's patch cells. Comparable results were obtained using spleen, thymus, and hemopoietic liver from newborn donors in association with thymic function. For similar cell dosages, newborn thymus cells were more effective than adult thymus in their cooperative effect with thymic function. Dispersed thymus cells in association with young adult bone marrow or newborn hemopoietic liver cells showed no synergism for the cooperative effect with thymic function in the present model.
Using hemiallogeneic cells (F1 hybrid into parent) it was possible to show that restoration was mediated by proliferative expansion of the injected cells. This was indicated by specific tolerance to tissues of the other parental strain and by cellular chimerism, especially of lymphoid tissues, as indicated by chromosome markers and absence of significant numbers of immunocompetent cells of host origin.
A population of paritally differentiated cells of hemopoietic origin, termed postthymic, sensitive to humoral activity of the thymus and present in the lymphohemopoietic tissues of adult and newborn mice is postulated to explain our results. These cells are postthymic and thymus dependent in the sense that they already received thymic influence, probably through traffic, and are incapable of self-renewal in absence of the thymus. Sensitivity to humoral activity of the thymus is characterized by proliferative expansion and/or a differentiative process eventually leading to larger numbers of competent cells.