Por: Dr. Roch, El 30 marzo, 2023
Today I am going to tell you about the Thymus, a gland-like organ of the immune system made up of T lymphocytes, which are the cells in charge of cellular immunity that respond by activating some cells to fight infections.
The Thymus: What is it, and what is it for?
The Thymus is a gland of the immune system. It produces white blood cells called lymphocytes that protect the body from infection. It was known in ancient Greece by the origin of the word Thýmos, which means “heart or soul. I say it is the heart of the soul – where the only eternal thing in a human being is found.
Its exact location is in the chest, where desires and higher emotions are felt personally. This is where you discover your ikigai, the passions of your spirit, not the desires of the pituitary gland (the mind that lies).
Galen was the first to recognize that this organ changes in size throughout life. Initially, it was considered a “lymphocyte graveyard” with no functional value.
However, its importance in the immune system was discovered by Jacques Millar in 1961 when he surgically removed the Thymus from a 3-day-old mouse and observed the subsequent deterioration of its lymphocytes, later called T-cells, a name synonymous with “derived Thymus”.
When the Thymus is not functioning properly, our immune system does not produce enough T-cells to protect us from infection, which is called immunodeficiency; or when the Thymus produces T-cells that attack our body’s own cells, which is called autoimmunity.
What is the Thymus gland like?
The Thymus has two lobes in the upper chest cavity, partially in the neck region.
It is located above the heart’s pericardium, in front of the aorta, between the lungs, below the thyroid, and behind the sternum.
The Thymus gland has a thin covering called the capsule. It is made up of three types of cells:
- Epithelial cells. These are compact cells that give it its shape and structure.
- Lymphocytes. These are immune cells that protect against infection and stimulate the immune response.
- Kulchitsky cells. These are cells that secrete hormones.
The lobes of the Thymus are made up of many smaller compartments called lobules. A lobe consists of an inner area called the medulla and a peripheral area called the cortex.
The cortex contains immature T lymphocytes, so these cells do not have the immune capacity to distinguish the body’s own cells from foreign cells.
The bone marrow, on the other hand, contains mature T lymphocytes. These cells can distinguish self cells from foreign cells by differentiating into specialized T lymphocytes. T lymphocytes originate from hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow and migrate in an immature state through the bloodstream to the Thymus.
The function of the Thymus
It is the organic function of the gland. My book talks about its spiritual and healthy role in your life.
The primary function of the Thymus is to mature T lymphocytes. Once mature, they leave the Thymus and are transported through the blood to the lymph nodes and spleen. It should be noted that T lymphocytes are the cells of the immune system responsible for cell-mediated immunity, an immune response that triggers the activation of specific immune cells to fight infection. Their cell membrane contains several proteins capable of recognizing allergens (substances that trigger an immune response). T lymphocytes are differentiated into three types in the Thymus:
Cytotoxic T cells. They bind directly to the antigens of the pathogen and eliminate it.
T-helper cells. They stimulate the production of antibodies by B lymphocytes and produce substances that activate other T cells.
Regulatory T cells. They are also called suppressor T cells because they suppress the response of B cells and other T cells to antigens.
The Thymus produces several hormonal proteins that help T lymphocytes mature and differentiate. The Thymus produces and releases several hormones, including thymopoietin, which stimulates T-cell production and tells the pituitary gland to release hormones. It also produces thymosin and thymulin, which help produce specialized T cells, i.e., induce the differentiation of T lymphocytes and enhance their immune function. Thymosin boosts the immune response.
On the other hand, as a hormonal gland, the Thymus also stimulates other glands. An example is the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, which allows the release of growth hormone, luteinizing hormone, prolactin, and gonadotropin, and the adrenal gland, which stimulates the production of ACTH. This explanation is very technical, but I have tried to be as clear and straightforward as possible.
o demonstrate the scientific rigor of working with the thymus, and to learn how the thymus is connected to what drives us, what makes us feel, and therefore what makes us truly human, you are welcome to live the experience of activating your Thymus and improving your life. I invite you to read my book, The Thymus: Miracle Factory, available in Spanish and English at Amazon.com and our online store.
Thank you for reading me.
– Dr. Roch.