In human anatomy
, the thymus
is a ductless gland
located in the upper anterior
portion of the chest cavity. It is most active during puberty
, after which it shrinks in size and activity in most individuals and is replaced with fat
. The thymus plays an important role in the development of the immune system
in early life, and its cells form a part of the body's normal immune system.
Children with an enlarged thymus suffer from sudden attacks of unconsciousness, convulsions, and sometimes sudden death; this condition is known as status thymicolymphaticus. Tumors of the thymus are found in about 10% of patients with myasthenia gravis.
The thymus is also present in many other animals.
When animal thymus tissue is sold in a butcher shop or at a meat counter, thymus is known as sweetbread.
Thymus (family Lamiaceae) is the genus of plants to which thyme belongs.