This soft, pinkish-gray gland is tucked behind the sternum between the lungs, shrinks as we come to puberty, and may even atrophy later on. The thymus helps the immune system adapt to various threats. For example, "T" cells are white blood cells that have been activated by the thymus; hence the letter "T". The thymus also produces a number of different compounds that help strengthen the immune system. It increases in size until puberty to approximately 20-50gm and then undergoes progressive atrophy to 5-15gm in older patients. The thymus is the site where bone marrow progenitor cells migrate and differentiate into T-cells. Prothymocytes in the superficial cortex (CD2) give rise to cortical thymocytes (CD1a, CD2, CD3) and CD4 and CD8 (T-helper and -suppressor cells). There are also scattered epithelial cells, macrophages, dendritic cells, and myoid cells. The thymus appears to need plenty of balanced protein, antioxidants like carotenes, vitamin C, E, B6, zinc and selenium.
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