With advancing age, the thymus undergoes striking fibrotic and fatty changes that culminate in its transformation into adipose tissue. As the thymus involutes, reduction in thymocytes and thymic epithelial cells precede the emergence of mature lipid-laden adipocytes. Dogma dictates that adipocytes are 'passive' cells that occupy non-epithelial thymic space or 'infiltrate' the non-cellular thymic niches. The provenance and purpose of ectopic thymic adipocytes during aging in an organ that is required for establishment and maintenance of T cell repertoire remains an unsolved puzzle. Nonetheless, tantalizing clues about elaborate reciprocal relationship between thymic fatness and thymopoietic fitness are emerging. Blocking or bypassing the route toward thymic adiposity may complement the approaches to rejuvenate thymopoiesis and immunity in elderly. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
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