Thymus


Thymus
: An organ in which lymphocytes mature and multiply. It lies behind the breastbone.
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[NA] A primary lymphoid organ, located in the superior mediastinum and lower part of the neck, that is necessary in early life for the normal development of immunologic function. It reaches its greatest relative weight shortly after birth and its greatest absolute weight at puberty; it then begins to involute, and much of the lymphoid tissue is replaced by fat. The t. consists of two irregularly shaped parts united by a connective tissue capsule. Each part is partially subdivided by connective tissue septa into lobules, 0.5 to 2 mm in diameter, which consist of an inner medullary portion, continuous with the medullae of adjacent lobules, and an outer cortical portion. It is supplied by the inferior thyroid and internal thoracic arteries, and its nerves are derived from the vagus and sympathetic nerves. SYN: t. gland. [G. thymos, excrescence, sweetbread]

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thy·mus 'thī-məs n, pl thy·mus·es also thy·mi -.mī a glandular structure of largely lymphoid tissue that functions in cell-mediated immunity by being the site where T cells develop, that is present in the young of most vertebrates typically in the upper anterior chest or at the base of the neck, that arises from the epithelium of one or more embryonic branchial clefts, and that tends to disappear or become rudimentary in the adult called also thymus gland

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n.
a bilobed organ in the root of the neck, above and in front of the heart. The thymus is enclosed in a capsule and divided internally by cross walls into many lobules, each full of T-lymphocytes (white blood cells associated with antibody production). In relation to body size the thymus is largest at birth. It doubles in size by puberty, after which it gradually shrinks, its functional tissue being replaced by fatty tissue. In infancy the thymus controls the development of lymphoid tissue and the immune response to microbes and foreign proteins (accounting for allergic response, autoimmunity, and the rejection of organ transplants). T-lymphocytes migrate from the bone marrow to the thymus, where they mature and differentiate until activated by antigen.
thymic adj.

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Thy·mus (thiґməs) thyme; a genus of herbs of the family Labiatae, native to south central Europe and grown extensively elsewhere. T. vulgaґris L. is garden thyme, a source of thyme oil and thymol.

Medical dictionary. 2011.