Thymus extract

background

The thymus is a lobular gland located under the breastbone near the thyroid gland that plays a role in immune function. With age, the thymus is replaced by fat and connective tissue.
According to legend, glandular or organotherapy, which refers to the use of animal tissues or cell preparations to improve physiologic functioning and support the natural healing process, first gained popularity in the early to mid 1900s. The idea of homeopathic glandular therapy was first introduced almost 200 years ago. Thymus extracts for nutritional supplements usually come from young calves (bovine). Bovine thymus extracts are found in capsules and tablets as dietary supplements.
Thymus extract is commonly used to stimulate the immune system and to treat bone marrow failure, autoimmune disorders, chronic skin diseases, recurrent viral and bacterial infections, hepatitis, allergies, chemotherapy side effects, and cancer. Most basic and clinical research involving oral and injectable thymus extract has been conducted in Europe.
Studies in humans suggest promising results in terms of allergies, asthma, cancer, chemotherapeutic side effects, cardiomyopathy (weakening of the heart muscle), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, HIV/AIDS, liver disease, respiratory tract infections, systemic lupus erythematosus, and tuberculosis and to stimulate the immune system However, not all study results agree, and more well designed studies are still needed in many fields.

Related Terms

Aqueous calf thymus extract, bovine thymic extract, calf thymus, calf thymus acid lysate, calf thymus extract, calf-thymus lysate, calf thymus nuclear extract, Complete Thymic Formula®, CSFa, CSFb, CTE, facteur thymique serique, fetal thymus, fraction V, FTS, glandular therapy, hormonal thymic factor, IFX, immunophan, Leucotrofina, leucotrofina-L (Timolimfotropina-T), leukotrophin, oligopeptide (fractionV), organotherapy, peptide thymosin alpha 1, polypeptides, polypeptide thymus extract, rabbit thymus, RTE, serum thymic factor, tactivin, T-activin, taktivin, Talpha1, TFX, TFX-JELFA ini., Thymalfasin™ (thymosin alpha1, Talpha1, Zadaxin®, SciClone Pharmaceuticals, Inc.), thymalin, thymex L, thymex-L, thymic calf extract (leucotrofina), thymic extract, thymic factor, thymic factor X, thymus glandular extract, thymic hormones, thymic humoral factor, thymic peptides, Thymoject®, thymomodulin, thymomodulins, thymopoietin, thymosin, thymosin alpha, thymosin alpha 1, thymosin fraction 5, thymosin fraction V, thymostimulin (TS, TST, Tp-1, Serono, bovine thymic extract), thymsin (TP-1), thymulin, thymus extract (TFX-JELFA ini.), Thymus Extract Mulli®, thymus gland, TP1, TP-1, Tp-1 Serono, TS, TST, ubiquitin, umoral factor, vilozen, whole calf thymus extract (TFX-Polfa), Zadaxin®.
Combination products (examples): Thymuskin™ treatment gel (contains synthetic thymus hydrolysate, etc.), Thymuskin™ shampoo (contains thymus extract, etc.).

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Allergy (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract may be useful for allergy symptom reduction. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made involving thymus extract for this use.
Alopecia (hair loss) (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract may be useful for hair re-growth. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made involving thymus extract for this use.
Anxiety/stress (Grade: C)
Thymus extract has been investigated for use in immune-modulating acute stress and adaptive disorders. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made involving thymus extract for this use.
Arthritis (Grade: C)
From the available evidence, any potential benefit of thymus extract is unclear. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made involving thymus extract for this use.
Asthma (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract may be useful for asthma symptom reduction. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made involving thymus extract for this use.
Burns (Grade: C)
Thymus extract may be useful for reducing infections, septicemia, and mortality. However, the evidence is mixed. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made involving thymus extract for this use.
Cancer (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract may reduce side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy and increase disease-free survival. Early studies have investigated thymus extract for the treatment of hematopoietic cancer, histiocytosis X, larynx and oropharnygeal cancer, and skin cancer, among others. Additional study is needed in this area.
Cardiomyopathy (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract may increase left ventricular function, exercise tolerance, and survival. Additional study is needed in this area.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract may be useful for reducing disease exacerbations and hospital admission. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made involving thymus extract for this use.
Dermatomyositis (inflammation of the muscles) (Grade: C)
Thymus extract is of interest for treatment of dermatomyositis (inflammation of the muscles) due to its role in stimulating the immune system. Additional study is needed in this area.
Diabetes (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence in conventionally treated patients with type I diabetes suggests that a combination of azathioprine and thymostimulin increased remission. Thymostimulin alone had no effect. Additional study is needed in this area.
Encephalitis (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract has no clinical effect in patients with subacute sclerosing panencephalitis. However, additional study is needed in this area.
Eye Disorders (Grade: C)
More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made involving thymus extract for the treatment of glaucoma or keratitis.
Gastritis (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract speeds healing of gastric lesions. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made involving thymus extract for this use.
HIV/AIDS (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence found no improvement in HIV progression to AIDS or immunostimulation, although some immunological activity was noted in a non-randomized controlled trial. Additional study is needed in this area.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) (Grade: C)
Thymus extract is of interest in the treatment of human papillomavirus due to its role in immunostimulation. Preliminary positive results were found in five cases. Additional study is needed in this area.
Immunostimulation (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract increases T- and B-lymphocyte counts, the number of rosette-forming cells, and response of T-lymphocytes. Also, in cancer patients, T-activin significantly increases the number of natural killer cells (CD16+). Additional study is needed in this area.
Liver disease (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract may offer benefit to individuals with HIV/AIDS and human papillomavirus. Also, thymus extract is of interest due to its role in immunostimulation. More well-designed studies are required in the area of non-hepatitis B and hepatitis B liver disorders before conclusions can be made involving thymus extract for this use.
Myelodysplastic syndrome (a disease of the blood) (Grade: C)
Thymus extract is of interest in the treatment of myelodysplastic syndrome due to its role in immunostimulation
Respiratory tract infections (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence suggests that both intramuscular and oral thymus extract may be useful for reducing the presence of respiratory tract symptoms. Additional study is need in this area.
Skin conditions (Grade: C)
Despite use of thymus extracts for dermatological conditions, there is currently inconclusive evidence recommending thymus extract for or against the use in skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (Grade: C)
Preliminary results indicate that articular and cutaneous symptoms associated with systemic lupus erythematosus can be improved with thymus extract use. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made involving thymus extract for this use.
Tuberculosis (Grade: C)
Although inconclusive, preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract may improve effectiveness of antibacterial therapy in patients with tuberculosis. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made involving thymus extract for this use.
Urinary tract infection (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence from a controlled trial suggests that thymus extract reduces re-infection frequency and infection persistence. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made involving thymus extract for this use.