The mechanism of chronic allotype suppression in (SJL x BALB/c)F1 mice has been investigated by means of cell transfer studies.
These mice are phenotypically negative for serum Ig-1b, the paternal allotype determinant on γG2a immunoglubulin, as a result of perinatal exposure to maternal anti-Ig-1b.
When spleen or bone marrow (B) cells from suppressed mice were injected into irradiated BALB/c "indicator" hosts, detectable levels of Ig-1b were demonstrated in the sera of a majority of the recipients early after transfer. These results indicate that Ig-1b-producing cells or their precursors are present in the lymphoid tissues of suppressed mice, even though they are not expressed.
Within 5–7 wk, it was no longer possible to detect Ig-1b in the sera of these hosts, although cells producing another paternal allotype (Ig-4b) were shown to persist. Control BALB/c mice, injected with spleen and B cells from normal mice, continued to produce high levels of immunoglobulin carrying this allotype.
The disappearance of serum, Ig-1b occurred most frequently in the recipients of suppressed spleen cells.
Similar results were obtained using a mixture of spleen cells from normal and suppressed mice. Ig-1b production in the recipient mice ceased within a few weeks, even though the majority of cells in the mixture were obtained from normal (nonsuppressed) donors.
The data are interpreted as evidence that chronic allotype suppression in mice is actively maintained by cells which are resident in the lymphoid tissues, splenic cells being the most effective. These cells are capable of proliferating in a new host and exerting their suppressive influence on Ig-1b-producing cells and/or their precursors.