A previous report that the offspring of outbred Sprague-Dawley rats, born of mothers presensitized or tolerant with respect to tissue antigens of the Lewis strain, and reinoculated with Lewis cells during their pregnancy, reject test grafts of Lewis skin in an accelerated manner has been confirmed. This "maternally induced" alteration in reactivity of the progeny has been found to be long lasting, immunologically specific, and probably not due to transfer of humoral antibody. It has been established that the reexposure of the mothers to donor cellular antigen during pregnancy augmented the influence of the prior states of tolerance or sensitivity.
To obviate the complications inherent in working with the outbred Sprague-Dawley rats, the key experiments summarized above were repeated with isogenic Fischer rats as parents and Lewis rats as the tissue donors as before. With this combination it was found that a state of prior sensitization or tolerance in the mothers resulted in the apparent induction of tolerance in some of their progeny. Reinoculation of either the tolerant or sensitized mothers during pregnancy slightly increased the incidence and degree of impairment of their offsprings' capacity to reject Lewis skin grafts. A single intraperitoneal injection of 100 x 106 million Lewis lymphoid cells into normal Fischer rats in the 14th–16th day of pregnancy also weakened the reactivity of their progeny to Lewis test grafts.
Further to test the premise that this weakened reactivity might be due to maternal induction of tolerance, by antenatal transmission of alien cells, the lymphohematopoietic tissue system of adult Fischer females was replaced by that from Lewis donors with the aid of cyclophosphamide. It was anticipated that when these animals were mated with Fischer males, sufficient Lewis leukocytes might cross the placentas to induce high degrees of tolerance. Although normal sized healthy litters were born, about 50% of the infants succumbed to graft-versus-host (GVH) or runt disease within 40 days, many of them giving evidence of being tolerant of Lewis grafts. The mothers, too, developed chronic GVH disease. The offspring of Fischer females made chimeric with cells from (Fischer x Lewis)F1 hybrid donors, as well as their mothers, remained healthy.
Intraperitoneal injection of normal Fischer females, in the 15th–17th day of pregnancy, with 100 million lymphoid cells from specifically sensitized Lewis rats, also caused fatal runt disease to develop in about 50% of their offspring, but left the mothers unscathed.
Taken together, these various findings indicate that in some genetic contexts at least the extent of the natural surreptitious transplacental cellular traffic can be considerably augmented experimentally, though how this comes about and why lymphocytic cells that are foreign to the mother can apparently gain access to fetuses more readily than her own cells remain to be determined.