Revisiting the teleost thymus: Current knowledge and future perspectives

Felipe Barraza, Ruth Montero, Valentina Wong-Benito, Héctor Valenzuela, Carlos Godoy-Guzmán, Fanny Guzmán, Bernd Köllner, Tiehui Wang, Christopher J. Secombes, Kevin Maisey, Mónica Imarai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


The thymus in vertebrates plays a critical role in producing functionally competent Tlymphocytes. Phylogenetically, the thymus emerges early during evolution in jawed cartilaginous fish, and it is usually a bilateral organ placed subcutaneously at the dorsal commissure of the operculum. In this review, we summarize the current understanding of the thymus localization, histology studies, cell composition, and function in teleost fishes. Furthermore, we consider environmental factors that affect thymus development, such as seasonal changes, photoperiod, water temperature fluctuations and hormones. Further analysis of the thymus cell distribution and function will help us understand how key stages for developing functional T cells occur in fish, and how thymus dynamics can be modulated by external factors like photoperiod. Overall, the information presented here helps identify the knowledge gaps and future steps needed for a better understanding of the immunobiology of fish thymus.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8
Number of pages18
Issue number1
Early online date25 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding: This work was supported by RCUK-CONICYT MR/N02625X/1 and BB/N0240521/1, FONDECYT 1161510, FONDECYT 1201664, FONDECYT 11171057 (KM) and USA1899 VRIDEI/DICYT-USACH 021943IB-PAP. RM was financed by the Scholarship Program Becas Chile-DAAD: Doctoral scholarship with bilateral agreement abroad CONICYT-DAAD.
Acknowledgments: We thank Carolina Espinoza for excellent technical assistance.


  • CD4 T cells
  • CD8 T cells
  • Rainbow trout
  • Teleost
  • Thymus
  • thymus
  • rainbow trout
  • teleost


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