Medical Q&As

Thymus gland - what does it do?

I am 27 years of age and have been recently diagnosed with a thymus gland problem. Should this effect my emotions, as I seem to be quite depressed? Can you tell me anything about the functions of the thymus gland?

The thymus is a small gland situated in the chest cavity just behind the upper end of the sternum or breastbone. Its functions were poorly understood until recent decades when its central role in the body’s immune system was recognised. The thymus gland processes many of the white blood cells that are produced in the bone marrow and converts these cells into T-lymphocytes. These cells have a crucial role in defending the body against infection. They stimulate the production of antibodies by other lymphocytes and they also stimulate the growth and activity of the phagocytes, which are a form of scavenger cell that ingest invading viruses and bacteria. The thymus gland is at its largest size in the young infant and over the years it regresses in size. This reduction in size leads to reduced function in the gland. It is not clear from your question as to the nature of the abnormality in your thymus gland therefore it is difficult for me to give an expanded answer to you. There is a condition known as myasthenia gravis that is associated with the thymus gland and this can be associated with fatigue and depression. However, it is probably best for me not to engage in speculation about your condition in the absence of a more precise diagnosis from you.