Immunohistochemical assessment of the neurosecretory cells of the chicken thymus using a novel monoclonal antibody against avian chromogranin A.
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An immunocytochemical approach to the identification of neuroendocrine cells in the thymus of the chicken was taken based on a novel monoclonal antibody against turkey chromogranin A (CgA), a classic marker protein for neuroendocrine cells. CgA-immunoreactive cells were readily observed in the thymus, and were typically confined to the medullary side of the corticomedullary junction of the thymic lobules. Reversed transcription PCR confirmed local production of CgA in the thymus. The majority of CgA+ cells were small and round or oval in shape but some cells were larger and had conspicuous extensions. Immunofluorescent double staining experiments with antibodies against Neuron-specific enolase and with a neural crest marker (HNK-1) indicated no demonstrable overlap between the CgA-positive cells and either of the above cell populations, demonstrating the existence of three distinct neuronal/neuroendocrine cell populations in the avian thymus.