| UGA Today

UGA researchers discover origin of unusual glands in the body

The thymus gland is a critical component of the human immune system that is responsible for the development of T-lymphocytes, or T-cells, which help organize and lead the body's fighting forces against harmful organisms like bacteria and viruses.

The main body of the thymus lies beneath the breastbone in the upper chest. But scientists were surprised several years ago when two teams of researchers discovered that both mice and humans have extra thymus-like glands distributed throughout their necks.

Now, researchers at the University of Georgia have published findings in Nature Communications that reveal where these extra glands come from and help explain what roles the extra thymuses may play in the complex network of the body's natural defense systems.