Thymosins beta 4 (Tβ4) is a member of the beta-thymosins family, a family of peptides playing essential roles in many cellular functions. Our recent studies suggested Tβ4 plays a key role in the development of human salivary glands and the gastrointestinal tract. The aim of this study was to analyse the presence of Tβ4 in the human adult and foetal genitourinary tract. Immunolocalization of Tβ4 was studied in autoptic samples of kidney, bladder, uterus, ovary, testicle and prostate obtained from four human foetuses and four adults. Presence of the peptide was observed in cells of different origin: in surface epithelium, in gland epithelial cells and in the interstitial cells. Tβ4 was mainly found in adult and foetal bladder in the transitional epithelial cells; in the adult endometrium, glands and stromal cells were immunoreactive for the peptide; Tβ4 was mainly localized in the glands of foetal prostate while, in the adults a weak Tβ4 reactivity was restricted to the stroma. In adult and foetal kidney, Tβ4 reactivity was restricted to ducts and tubules with completely spared glomeruli; a weak positivity was observed in adult and foetal oocytes; immunoreactivity was mainly localized in the interstitial cells of foetal and adult testis. In this study, we confirm that Tβ4 could play a relevant role during human development, even in the genitourinary tract, and reveal that immunoreactivity for this peptide may change during postnatal and adult life.
Thymosin ?4, genitourinary tract, development