Thymus extract

background

The thymus is a lobular gland located under the breastbone near the thyroid gland. It reaches its maximum size during early childhood and plays a large role in immune function. The thymus is responsible for the production of T-lymphocytes, as well as the production of various hormones including thymosin, thymopoeitin, thymulin, thymic humoral factor, and serum thymic factor. These hormones may be involved in the increase in lymphokines (interleukin 2, interferon, colony stimulating factor), increase of interleukin 2 receptors, and regulation of weight. 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 are usually derived from young calves (bovine). Bovine thymus extracts are found in capsules and tablets as a dietary supplement.
Thymus extract is commonly used to treat primary immunodeficient states, 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.
Clinical trials in humans suggest promising results in terms of allergies, asthma, cancer, chemotherapeutic side effects, cardiomyopathy, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, HIV/AIDS, immunostimulation, liver disease, respiratory tract infections, systemic lupus erythematosus, and tuberculosis. However, not all study results agree, and properly randomized, double-blind clinical trials are still needed in many fields.
Future areas of research include (but are not limited to) rheumatoid arthritis, warts, urinary tract infections (UTIs), psoriasis, eczema, alopecia (hair loss), and appendicitis.

synonyms

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, 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®.

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 clinical trials are required before recommendations can be made involving thymus extract for this use.
Alopecia (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract may be useful for hair re-growth. More clinical trials are required before recommendations 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 clinical trials are required before recommendations 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 clinical trials are required before recommendations 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 clinical trials are required before recommendations 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 clinical trials are required before recommendations can be made involving thymus extract for this use.
Cancer (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract may increase disease-free survival and immunological improvement. 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.
Cancer (chemotherapy adjunct) (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract may reduce side effects and infection rates associated with chemotherapy, and increase disease-free survival. Additional study is needed in this area.
Cancer (radiotherapy side effects) (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence suggests intramuscular thymus extract may help treat immunodeficiency associated with radiotherapy. 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 clinical trials are required before recommendations can be made involving thymus extract for this use.
Dermatomyositis (Grade: C)
Thymus extract is of interest for treatment of dermatomyositis (inflammation of the muscles) due to its role in immunostimulation. 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.
Eczema (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract has no clinical effect in patients with atopic eczema, despite anecdotal evidence suggesting the use of thymus extract for dermatological uses. Further well-designed clinical trials are still required before thymus extract can be recommended for this use.
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.
Gastritis (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract speeds healing of gastric lesions. Further well-designed clinical trials are still required before thymus extract can be recommended for this use.
Glaucoma (Grade: C)
Well-designed clinical trials are required before thymus extract can be recommended in the treatment of glaucoma.
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 papilloma virus (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.
Keratitis (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract, in addition to local treatment, reduces the recurrence rate of keratitis. Further well-designed clinical trials are still required before thymus extract can be recommended for this use.
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 clinical trials are required in the area of non-hepatitis B and hepatitis B liver disorders before recommendations can be made involving thymus extract for this use.
Myelodysplastic syndrome (Grade: C)
Thymus extract is of interest in the treatment of myelodysplastic syndrome due to its role in immunostimulation
Psoriasis (Grade: C)
Preliminary results suggest the combination of an intravenous thymus extract plus selenium and fumaric acid may increase healing rate. Additional study is needed in this area.
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.
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. Well designed clinical trials are required before thymus extract can be recommended for this use.
Tuberculosis (Grade: C)
Although inconclusive, preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract may improve effectiveness of antibacterial therapy in patients with tuberculosis. Well-designed clinical trials are required before recommendations can be made.
Urinary tract infection (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence from a controlled trial suggests that thymus extract reduces re-infection frequency and infection persistence. Further evidence is required before recommendations can be made.
Warts (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract increased T cell count and activation in patients with warts. Further evidence is required before recommendations can be made.