Although T cells arise in the thymus, migration of mature postthymic T cells back to the thymus is very limited in adult mice and is restricted to activated cells. In neonates, by contrast, we present evidence that circulating CD4+ and CD8+ T cells with a naive/resting phenotype readily enter the thymus after intravenous injection and remain there for prolonged periods. The migration of resting T cells to the neonatal thymus is largely limited to an unusual subset of cells which lacks expression of the lymph node homing receptor, leukocyte-endothelial cell adhesion molecule 1 (LECAM-1) (MEL-14). Migration of mature T cells to the thymus in neonates may be important for self-tolerance induction.

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