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Biol Reprod. 2000 Dec;63(6):1817-24.

Immunoglobulin-secreting cells of maternal origin can be detected in B cell-deficient mice.

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Department of Animal Development and Genetics, Uppsala University, SE-75236 Uppsala, Sweden.


It is well known that the transfer of immunoglobulins (Igs) from mother to young via milk contributes to the offspring's immune defense. The present study suggests that not only is IgG transmitted to progeny, but that functional maternal Ig-secreting cells (or B cells) can also be transferred to the neonate. We have used B cell-deficient (micro(-/-)) mice and found that a high proportion of them obtain long-lasting, partial reconstitution of their serum Ig levels if born to micro(+/-) mothers. In some of these serum IgG-positive micro(-/-) mice, Ig-secreting cells were detected in spleen and bone marrow. To ensure that cells of maternal origin were present in the progeny, micro(-/-) offspring born to micro(+/-) dams transgenic for green fluorescent protein (GFP) were used. In spleens and bone marrow from some of these micro(-/-)GFP(-/-) offspring, GFP-positive cells were detected, which demonstrated that cells of maternal origin could infiltrate the progeny. In addition, splenic Ig-secreting cells were detected in micro(-/-) mice that were born to micro(-/-) dams and transferred to a lactating micro(+/+) foster dam at birth. This indicates that maternal Ig-secreting cells can be transferred postnatally via milk.

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