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Thymus removal’s impact on ageing

Aug 6, 2023

Adults who have their thymus removed face higher risks of death, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. This is linked to a decrease in new T-cell production and an increase in proinflammatory cytokines, underscoring the vital role of the adult thymus in maintaining immune health and overall well-being.

August 2023 – The New England Journal of Medicine


Key takeaways


  • Increased risks post-thymectomy: Adults who undergo thymus removal experience heightened risks of death, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. This suggests a direct link between thymus function and vital aspects of health and disease resistance, which are crucial for longevity
  • Reduced T-cell production: The thymectomy leads to a significant decrease in the production of new T-cells, which are pivotal for immune system function. T-cells play a key role in fighting infections and diseases, and their reduced production can compromise the body’s ability to maintain long-term health and resist age-related diseases
  • Elevated proinflammatory cytokines: After the removal of the thymus, there’s an increase in proinflammatory cytokines in the body. These cytokines are markers of inflammation, which is often linked to various age-related diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disorders. Chronic inflammation is a known factor in the ageing process, potentially accelerating it


The importance of the thymus in adults is often overlooked. It’s not just crucial in early development but also plays a significant role in maintaining immune health in adulthood. Its preservation could be key to promoting healthier ageing and reducing the onset of age-related health issues.


Read the article at: Kooshesh, Kameron A., et al. “Health Consequences of Thymus Removal in Adults.The New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 389, no. 5, 3 Aug. 2023, pp. 406-417.