Thymic Factors

Thymic factors are naturally occurring substances that promote T-lymphocyte differentiation and differentiation of early stem cells into prothymocytes. Each of the available preparations (e.g., thymic humoral factor, thy-mosin fraction 5, and thymodulin) are mixtures of several polypeptides isolated from a calf thymus extract.

By promoting the formation of T lymphocytes, thymic factors are used to enhance T-lymphocytic functions. Thymic factors have been used with some success in clinical trials in patients with severe combined immunodeficiency, DiGeorge's or Nezelof's syndrome, and viral disorders. Studies with thymodulin show promise in treating symptoms in asthmatics and patients with allergic rhinitis. The primary consideration in the use of thymic factors for immunodeficiency states is the presence of T-lymphocyte precursors.

Few major side effects have been reported, especially with purer forms produced by genetic engineering. Crude thymic preparations have produced allergic side effects in some patients.

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