Continued serological investigations of the sedimentable constituents of normal and neoplastic tissues have shown that the blood serum of normal rabbits will fix complement in mixture with saline extracts of normal rabbit tissues. The phenomenon has proved referable, not to anticomplementary effects of serum or antigen nor to so called non-specific complement fixation, but to a naturally occurring serum principle, hitherto unrecognized, which reacts specifically in vitro with a sedimentable constituent of normal tissue cells.
The principle exists in the blood of nearly all adult rabbits but is absent from that of rabbits less than 1 month old. It can be salted out from serum with ammonium sulfate and is destroyed when heated at 65°C. for 20 to 30 minutes. Its titer was found to run parallel in general with that of two natural antibodies also present in normal rabbit's blood (natural Wassermann reagin, natural anti-sheep hemolysin); but absorption tests showed it to be distinct from these. Because of its properties, the serum principle has been termed the natural tissue antibody.
The substance with which the natural tissue antibody reacts is regularly present in saline extracts of many normal tissues,—those of rabbits and of other species as well. Kidney and liver tissues always yield it in abundance, while spleen, brain, and testicle provide somewhat less; heart and voluntary muscle extracts contain relatively little, and non-nucleated erythrocytes and skin are practically devoid of it. The results of affinity and absorption tests indicate that it is nearly or quite the same from whatever tissue or species derived. It is readily sedimentable in the high-speed centrifuge, little or none remaining in the supernatant liquid of potent suspensions spun at 25,000 R.P.M. (45,400 g) for 1 hour. It either does not come away into alcohol or is inactivated thereby, is readily destroyed by heat (56–70°C. for 30 minutes), and diminishes notably in antigenic potency upon standing overnight in saline suspension or when the tissues containing it are kept in glycerol. Its properties suggest that it may be a protein.
The implications of the findings are discussed in relation to the formation of the natural antibody and its place amongst serological phenomena, to so called "non-specific" fixation of complement and other serological complexities, and with particular reference to the character of the sedimentable constituents of normal and neoplastic tissue cells.