A study has been made of the immunization procedure described by Shope, with particular reference to the detection of "masked" papilloma virus by means of it. Papilloma extracts were frequently encountered which, though non-pathogenic, elicited the specific antiviral antibody and induced resistance to the virus upon injection intraperitoneally into normal rabbits. The results of the immunization experiments were often complicated, however, by the effects of extravasated antibody, which had accumulated in various amounts in many of the papillomas and was consequently present in extracts of them together with "masked" virus. The extravasated antibody was often sufficient to render extracts of domestic rabbit papillomas non-antigenic; and sometimes, when present in excess, its passive transfer conferred resistance to reinfection with the virus. The conclusion seems warranted that only positive immunization findings can be interpreted with certainty. Negative results provide no decisive evidence as to whether "masked" virus is or is not present in the injected material, unless the amount of extravasated antibody also present is known. The findings may have a bearing on the negative outcome of immunization experiments with extracts of the cancers deriving from the natural papillomas of cottontails.
Crude suspensions of domestic rabbit papillomas, which contain little or no virus demonstrable by ordinary methods, are far less antigenic than extracts of the natural growths of wild rabbits, which contain virus in quantity. In explanation of the finding the possibility seems worthy of attention that domestic rabbit papillomas may contain much less virus than the growths of cotton tails, the natural hosts of the virus.