The characterization and distribution of cells containing the serum thymic factor (FTS) in the thymus of young mice was studied by immunofluorescence using monoclonal anti-FTS antibodies. FTS+ cells were distributed throughout the thymic parenchyma but were more frequent in the medullary region than in the cortex. FTS-containing cells presented a stellate or globular aspect, and some of them exhibited fluorescent cytoplasmic granules. The epithelial nature of FTS+ cells was confirmed by double-labeling experiments using an anti-keratin antiserum (as an epithelial cell marker). Nevertheless, only a minority of keratin-positive epithelial reticular cells contained FTS. All controls, including the incubation of sections from nonthymic tissues with the anti-FTS antibodies, were negative. Taken together, these results confirm the exclusive localization of FTS-containing cells within the mouse thymus.

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