The fetal thymus at 13 days of gestation withstands transplantation and develops normally under the renal capsule of a syngenic host. Distinct differences were observed between the fetal thymus grafts and grafts from neonatal or adult thymus donors. The fetal thymus graft did not undergo the rapid and severe necrosis observed when adult thymus was grafted. Furthermore, when thymuses were transplanted into allogenic recipients, rejection was delayed.
The fetal thymus was as effective as the adult thymus in restoring syngenic neonatally thymectomized mice and far superior to adult thymus when grafted into allogenic recipients. These observations seem relevant to clinical efforts to restore immunocompetence in patients with congenital absence of the thymus.