Macrophages and epithelial cells of the thymus gland. An ultrastructural study in the natterjack, Bufo calamita

M. G. Barrutia, M. Torroba, M. J. Fernandez, A. Vicente, A. G. Zapata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In the present study, the ultrastructure of the stromal components, basically epithelial elements and macrophages, of the thymus of adult natterjacks. Bufo calamita has been analyzed. A network of stellate epithelial-reticular cells joined together by desmosomes, constitutes the main component of the thymic parenchyma in both cortex and medulla. In the medulla pale, electron-lucent epithelial cells, sometimes showing surface interdigitations, are striking elements. Moreover, uni- and multicellular epithelial cysts appear in the thymic medulla as well as granulated cells of possible endocrine significance. Remarkably, isolated or grouped gland cells whose morphology and cytoplasmic content resemble that of the skin glands, were occasionally found. Finally, macrophages, multinucleated giant cells and dendritic-like cells, the latter intimately associated to lymphocytes, occur in the thymus of Bufo calamita. The most remarkable morphologic characteristics of all those non-lymphoid cell types, as well as their possible functional significance are comparatively discussed with available information on the amphibian and higher vertebrate thymic cytoarchitecture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-81
Number of pages13
JournalTissue and Cell
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • Thymus
  • amphibians
  • epithelial cells
  • macrophages
  • ultrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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