Adult or weanling C3H mice were found to be genetically resistant to a strain of mouse hepatitis virus. Infant C3H mice, however, developed infection and died from mouse hepatitis virus when minimal infectious doses of virus were given to them. There was a delay in the time of death compared to that of the genetically susceptible strain, and the virus recovered from these mice had increased pathogenicity for C3H mice.
The ontogeny of resistance to hepatitis in the C3H mice thus progresses from delayed susceptibility to complete resistance as the age of the host increases. It is reflected in increased resistance of macrophages derived in vitro from liver cultures of infant mice of different ages. This increase in resistance with age was reduced by maintaining the cultures for a longer period of time before inoculation, or by increasing the number of explants in a given culture. Resistant cells were uniformly furnished by mice age 16 days, or more. It is concluded that a process of maturation of resistance of the cells takes place after the mice are born, but that this does not continue under in vitro conditions, and that it may be modified by the environment of the cells.