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Age-related changes in the morphology and protein expression of the thymus of healthy yaks (Bos grunniens)

Qian Zhang PhD1, Kun Yang PhD2, Pan Yangyang PhD3, Junfeng He PhD4, Sijiu Yu PhD5, and Yan Cui PhD6
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  • 1 Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Gansu Agricultural University, Lanzhou 730070, China.
  • | 2 Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Gansu Agricultural University, Lanzhou 730070, China.
  • | 3 Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Gansu Agricultural University, Lanzhou 730070, China.
  • | 4 Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Gansu Agricultural University, Lanzhou 730070, China.
  • | 5 Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Gansu Agricultural University, Lanzhou 730070, China.
  • | 6 Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Gansu Agricultural University, Lanzhou 730070, China.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To evaluate age-related changes in the morphology and expression of cluster of differentiation 3 (CD3), S100 β, and caspase-3 of the thymus of healthy yaks (Bos grunniens).

ANIMALS 15 healthy male yaks of various ages from highland plateaus.

PROCEDURES Yaks were allocated to 3 groups on the basis of age (newborn [1 to 7 days old; n = 5], juvenile [5 to 7 months old, 5], and adult [3 to 4 years old; 5]) and euthanized. The thymus was harvested from each yak within 10 minutes after euthanasia. Morphological characteristics were assessed by histologic examination and transmission electron microscopy. Expression of CD3, S100 β, and caspase-3 mRNA and protein was measured by quantitative real-time PCR assay, Western blot analysis, and immunohistochemical staining.

RESULTS As age increased, functional thymic tissue was replaced with adipose and connective tissues and the thymic capsule thickened. Expression of CD3 and S100 β mRNA and protein decreased with age, whereas expression of caspase-3 mRNA and protein increased with age. Immunohistochemical staining revealed that CD3-positive thymocytes were located within both the thymic cortex and medulla, S100 β–positive thymic dendritic cells were located in the corticomedullary junction and medulla, and caspase-3–positive thymocytes were diffusely scattered throughout the cortex and medulla.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results indicated that age-related thymic changes in yaks that live on highland plateaus were similar to those observed in humans and other mammals. Thus, yaks might serve as a model to study thymic immune system adaptations to high elevations.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To evaluate age-related changes in the morphology and expression of cluster of differentiation 3 (CD3), S100 β, and caspase-3 of the thymus of healthy yaks (Bos grunniens).

ANIMALS 15 healthy male yaks of various ages from highland plateaus.

PROCEDURES Yaks were allocated to 3 groups on the basis of age (newborn [1 to 7 days old; n = 5], juvenile [5 to 7 months old, 5], and adult [3 to 4 years old; 5]) and euthanized. The thymus was harvested from each yak within 10 minutes after euthanasia. Morphological characteristics were assessed by histologic examination and transmission electron microscopy. Expression of CD3, S100 β, and caspase-3 mRNA and protein was measured by quantitative real-time PCR assay, Western blot analysis, and immunohistochemical staining.

RESULTS As age increased, functional thymic tissue was replaced with adipose and connective tissues and the thymic capsule thickened. Expression of CD3 and S100 β mRNA and protein decreased with age, whereas expression of caspase-3 mRNA and protein increased with age. Immunohistochemical staining revealed that CD3-positive thymocytes were located within both the thymic cortex and medulla, S100 β–positive thymic dendritic cells were located in the corticomedullary junction and medulla, and caspase-3–positive thymocytes were diffusely scattered throughout the cortex and medulla.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results indicated that age-related thymic changes in yaks that live on highland plateaus were similar to those observed in humans and other mammals. Thus, yaks might serve as a model to study thymic immune system adaptations to high elevations.

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Prof Yan Cui (cuiyan369@sina.com).