Kidney transplants between strains of mice which are incompatible at either the K or the D end of the H-2 complex usually function for prolonged periods supporting the lives of nephrectomized recipients. This occurs with no recipient treatment. With multiple H-2 and non-H-2 determined incompatibilities, transplants may be rejected but more slowly than skin grafts. In the strain combination studied most extensively in these experiments (B10.D2 to B6AF(1)) in which the incompatibility was confined to the K end of the H-2 region, about 70 percent of recipients survived for many weeks with normal blood urea nitrogen levels. Skin grafts between untreated members of these strains were rejected promptly (mean survival time of 13.5 +/- 1.1 days) as were kidney transplants to recipients of prior skin grafts. Donor strain skin grafts to recipients of kidney transplants after kidney transplantation enjoyed greatly prolonged survival whereas skin grafts from a third party (A.SW) were rejected normally. If kidney tissue was transferred in the form of free grafts without primary vascular union, it was rejected promptly leaving its recipient highly immunized.
Cellular and humoral immunity to donor antigens declined over the first few weeks after transplantation, and the spleens of long-term recipients contained no killer cells. Recipient lymphoid cells could mount active graft versus host reactions to donor strain antigens on transfer to neonatal mice. Nevertheless, they were distinctly less able to respond specifically by the production of killer cells to donor strain antigens after sensitization in vitro. No evidence that this defect was associated with the presence of suppressor cells was forthcoming from several types of in vivo and in vitro tests.