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Immunology. Oct 1983; 50(2): 229–238.
PMCID: PMC1454347

The effect of maternal antigenic stimulation upon the active immune responsiveness of their offspring.

Abstract

Pregnant mice were stimulated by sheep erythrocytes (SRBC) and the active immune responses of their offspring were investigated. The offspring whose mothers were stimulated with SRBC did not develop either IgM or IgG plaque-forming cell (PFC) target cells. From the dose response of pregnant mice for inducing suppression, enough doses (10(8)-10(10) cells of SRBC) for inducing primary anti-SRBC PFC could establish suppression in the young. Both intravenous and intraperitoneal administration of SRBC induced almost complete suppression of the specific PFC response (98.6-95.2%), but only partial suppression (57.8%) was induced by subcutaneous injection. For suppression to take place, female mice had to be injected with SRBC from 2 days before fertilization to day 16 of gestation. Suppression of the PFC response was not obtained when SRBC were given 3 days before fertilization or just 24 hr before delivery. This suppressive effect on the PFC response persisted until the 15th week after birth. In these newborn mice, detectable amounts of specific anti-SRBC antibodies were found. After exchanging mothers and newborns, the stimulated newborns fostered by normal mothers were still unresponsive following antigenic stimulation, even though a specific antibody from the mother was not detected. However, normal newborns nursed by stimulated mothers could respond to SRBC injection, no matter how the specific antibodies were transferred. Possible mechanisms of immunosuppression of the PFC response by antibody transmitted by the mother to her offspring are discussed.

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Selected References

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