Immunization of rabbits with Group A Type 12 streptococcal cell membranes has elicited serum antibodies which have the ability to cause rapid rejection of skin allografts in guinea pigs. Intradermal injection of such antisera has resulted in skin reactions characterized by prominent polymorphonuclear leukocyte infiltrates, similar to those noted in the Arthus reaction. The combined use of membrane antisera and epinephrine has resulted in hemorrhagic necrosis of the skin of guinea pigs.
The ability of membrane antisera to exert these effects appears to be dependent upon the presence in the host tissues of antigen(s) shared by or cross-reacting with streptococcal membrane antigens. Such cross-reacting antigens may have a group distribution in the outbred guinea pig population.
The results highlight the potential biological importance of antigens present in the Group A streptococcal membrane in the induction of altered tissue reactivity in the mammalian host.