Mice were rendered tolerant to the hapten fluorescein (FLU) by a single injection of FLU-human gamma globulin (FLU5HGG) 2-3 d after birth or via the maternal circulation at 14.5 d of fetal life. After 7-9 d, the degree of functional nonresponsiveness induced in vivo among splenic FLU-specific B cells of tolerized mice was assessed by limiting-dilution analysis in vitro, and the serum levels of trace-labeled tolerogen were determined. When tolerogen was introduced before the appearance of any B cells, and was thus present during the pre-B to B cell transition stage, a concentration of 5.4 x 10(-13) M effectively silenced 50% of the clonable anti-FLU PFC precursors; but a similar reduction on newborns required a minimal tolerogen concentration of 1.3 x 10(-10) M, > 300-fold less than has previously been shown to equally affect adult B cells, but at least 240-fold more than in the in utero situation. Neonatally induced tolerance using a relatively high tolerogen dose lasted approximately 12 wk.

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