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Lymphocyte reactivity in pregnant women and newborn infants.

By V Y Yu, C A Waller, I C Maclennan and J D Baum


The mitotic response to phytohaemagglutinin (PHA) was determined in lymphocytes of mothers and their newborn infants obtained at delivery and seven days later by measuring the rate of 125 I-idoxuridine uptake into DNA in lymphocytes cultured in their own plasma and after washing and resuspension in fetal bovine serum. There was no difference in the unstimulated counts of maternal lymphocytes taken at delivery, whether unwashed or washed, compared with those from nonpregnant controls. With PHA stimulation the mitotic response of the maternal lymphocytes cultured in their own plasma was reduced compared with that of the control lymphocytes but washed maternal cells showed a similar response to the controls. These findings suggest that the reduced lymphocyte mitotic response to PHA in pregnancy is due to a plasma inhibitory factor This inhibition was not evident in maternal blood taken seven days after delivery. DNA synthesis in unstimulated cultures from newborn infants at birth and seven days after birth was greater than that in adult control cultures. With PHA stimulation the mitotic response of cord-blood lymphocytes cultured in their own plasma paralleled that of control lymphocytes but washed newborn cells showed a greater response. Thus plasma suppression similar to that observed in the mother seems also to affect infants at birth. This inhibition was not demonstrable in blood taken from infants of 7 days

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