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Infect Immun. 1977 Apr; 16(1): 54–59.
PMCID: PMC421487

Passive immunity to feline leukemia: evaluation of immunity from dams naturally infected and experimentally vaccinated.


Antibodies against feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and the feline oncornavirus-associated cell membrane antigen (FOCMA) were transferred from pregnant cats to their suckling kittens. All of these kittens were protected against infection and oncogenesis by virulent FeLV when challenged at 2 weeks of age. Suckling kittens acquired 25 to 100% of maternal virus-neutralizing and FOCMA titers by 3 days of age, and titers underwent linear decay to undetectable levels by 2 to 3 months of age. FOCMA antibody in dams and kittens was identified as immunoglobulin G (IgG) by use of goat anti-human IgG serum, which cross-reacts with feline IgG in the indirect membrane immunofluorescence test for FOCMA antibody. In an attempt to induce protective maternal antibody by vaccination, 10 pregnant cats were immunized by three to five weekly intramuscular injections with purified FeLV inactivated by ultraviolet irradiation. After the course of immunization, neither virus-neutralizing nor FOCMA antibody was detectable in the dams or in 19 kittens born to these cats. When these kittens were challenged with FeLV at 2 weeks of age, 18 of 19 developed persistent viremia and FeLV-related disease.

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Selected References

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