Expression of LIF in transgenic mice results in altered thymic epithelium and apparent interconversion of thymic and lymph node morphologies

Michael M. Shen, Radek C. Skoda, Robert Cardiff, Juanita Campos-Torres, Philip Leder, David M. Ornitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) is a cytokine involved in embryonic and hematopoietic development. To investigate the effects of LIF on the lymphoid system, we generated a line of transgenic mice that expresses diffusible LIF protein specifically in T cells. These mice display two categories of phenotype that were not previously attributed to LIF overexpression. First, they display B cell hyperplasia, polyclonal hypergammaglobulinemia and mesangial proliferative glomerulonephritis, defects similar to those described for transgenic mice overexpressing the functionally related cytokine, interleukin-6. Secondly, the LIF transgenic mice display novel thymic and lymph node abnormalities. In the thymus, cortical CD4+CD8+ lymphocytes are lost, while numerous B cell follicles develop. Peripheral lymph nodes contain a vastly expanded CD4+CD8+ lymphocyte population. Furthermore, the thymic epithelium is profoundly disorganized, suggesting that disruption of stroma-lymphocyte interactions is responsible for many observed defects. Transplantation of transgenic bone marrow into wild type recipients transfers both the thymic and lymph node defects. However, transplantation of wild type marrow into transgenic recipients rescues the lymph node abnormality, but not the thymic defect, indicating the thymic epithelium is irreversibly altered. Our observations are consistent with a role for LIF in maintaining a functional thymic epithelium that will support proper T cell maturation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1375-1385
Number of pages11
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 1994


  • B cell hyperplasia
  • CD4CD8 T cells
  • Leukemia inhibitory factor
  • Stroma-lymphocyte interactions
  • Transgenic mouse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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