Hematopoietic chimeras were produced at four different stages of ontogeny between two allogeneic strains of chickens. All chimeras produced by parabiosis at day 12 of embryogenesis and the majority (83%) of the ones produced at day 15 by intravenous injection of allogeneic stem cells remained healthy, chimeric, and specifically tolerant at both the humoral and cell-mediated level throughout a long examination period. Chimeras generated at day 17 of embryogenesis demonstrated specific unresponsiveness at the cell-mediated level but produced specific anti-donor alloantibodies directed against erythrocyte-associated major histocompatibility complex (MHC) (B-G) antigens. These chimeras and a minority (17%) of the chimeras generated at day 15 of embryogenesis developed severe antibody-mediated autoimmune hemolytic anemia after the 5th mo of age and succumbed to massive bursal lymphomas and metastases by the 10th mo of age. The immunological and pathological characteristics of these birds appear to reflect an autoimmune state rather than one of tolerance. Erythroid chimeras generated at day 21 of ontogenic development displayed normal levels of GVH reactivity. These birds were eventually able to eliminate the chimeric state and remained healthy until deliberately killed. These results show that there is a critical period in embryogenesis during which the induction of allogeneic erythrocytic chimerism leads to the development, in adult life, of severe autoimmune anemia, B cell lymphomas, and death. B-G MHC antigens are erythroid differentiation antigens of the chicken. Polymorphic determinants on B-G antigens appear to be important cross-reactive determinants (with environmental bacteria), against which a high background immunity exists. Evidence is presented that the immune response to B-G antigens is responsible for the development of autoimmunity and other pathological events that follow and that tolerance to class I MHC antigens (B-F antigens) shared by lymphocytes erythrocytes is maintained at the same time that B-G tolerance is broken.

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