Ability to form autologous rosettes (A-rosettes) is characteristic of a certain population of immature T cells, present in the thymus of various species including man. In mice, few A-rosettes are normally found in peripheral blood and spleen but their number increases markedly in spleen following thymectomy. In our studies, A-rosette formation could be demonstrated to be significantly enhanced in the spleen of C57B1/Ks mice after the animals had been maintained 3, 6, and 8 weeks on a zinc-deficient diet (Zn-) and to increase progressively with duration of feeding the Zn- diet. These changes were quickly reversed by feeding a normal diet containing zinc but could not be eliminated by complete adrenalectomy, a finding that ruled out their dependence on pituitary-adrenal as is function attributable to stress. Pair-fed controls and mice fed a zinc-supplemented diet ad libitum showed few A-rosettes, as expected.
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