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Cell Immunol. 1989 Apr 15;120(1):42-60.

Altered immune response patterns in murine syngeneic pregnancy: presence of natural null suppressor cells in maternal spleen identifiable by monoclonal antibodies.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Expression of certain autologous lymphocyte-activating antigenic determinants on the developing embryo is known to provide a stimulus for maternal anti-fetal autoproliferative responses. If left unregulated these responses could exert negative influences on the reproductive process by converting to autoaggressive forms of immune reactivity. In normal circumstances, immunological reactions of this nature are therefore likely to be under the control of pregnancy-associated immunoregulatory elements found within the maternal/fetal environment. In the present investigation we describe a naturally occurring splenic inhibitory cell type devoid of conventional T, B, and macrophage surface markers associated with syngeneic murine pregnancy that is capable of exerting potent immunosuppressive effects on an in vitro expression of fetal/newborn T cell autoreactivity, namely the autologous mixed lymphocyte reaction (AMLR). Maternal spleen cells inhibitory for AMLR were found to be highly resistant to cytotoxic pretreatment with a panel of conventional antisera directed against T cell-specific antigenic determinants. The non-T nature of the natural splenic suppressor cell was further indicated by experiments showing that purified spleen T cells had no inhibitory activity. Pregnancy spleen cell populations that were effectively depleted of macrophages retained full ability to inhibit AMLR. Maternal suppressor activity could be localized to the spleen cell population bearing receptors for the B cell-specific lectin, soybean agglutinin (SBA). A panel of monoclonal antibodies prepared against enriched populations of suppressor cells was screened and selected for specific reactivity using an ELISA against glutaraldehyde-fixed SBA+ spleen cell subpopulations from pregnant versus virgin animals. Several of the monoclonals developed against suppressor-enriched spleen cell populations from isopregnant as well as allopregnant animals were effective in reducing or eliminating suppressor cell activity following cytotoxic pretreatment in the presence of complement. The novel set of anti-suppressor monoclonal antibodies described here should prove useful in furthering the isolation and characterization of pregnancy-associated suppressor cells and in determining their relationship to natural suppressor cell populations described in other systems.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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