FETAL THYMUS GLANDS OBTAINED FROM PROSTAGLANDIN-INDUCED ABORTIONS: CELLULAR IMMUNE FUNCTION IN VITRO AND EVIDENCE OF IN VIVO THYMOCYTE ACTIVITY FOLLOWING TRANSPLANTATION
The cellular immune function of thymocytes isolated from thymus glands obtained from prostaglandin F2α-induced abortions (12–20-week gestational age) was investigated. In vitro thymocyte response to phytohemagglutinin and in mixed lymphocyte culture was present; thymocyte spontaneous T cell rosette formation was greater than 88%. A 16-week gestational age thymus was transplanted i.p. into a patient with severe combined immunodeficiency disease. Partial reconstitution of cellular immunity followed as evidenced by an increased percentage of T cell rosettes and a present but depressed in vitro lymphocyte response to phytohemagglutinin and in mixed lymphocyte culture. The occurrence of a severe graft-versus-host response indicated thymocyte engraftment. Thus, thymus glands of appropriate gestational age obtained from prostaglandin F2α-induced abortions should provide a source of thymocytes with intact cellular immunity both for in vitro investigation and in vivo reconstitution.