Lethally irradiated AKR mice were reconstituted with C57BL/6 bone marrow cells. Though the allogeneic marrow transplantation protected AKR recipients from acute irradiation deaths, the mice given unmanipulated marrow developed severe GVHR disease, and 80% died within 50 days. The thymus and spleen from the recipient mice, following recovery of body weight between the 10th and 20th days, gradually involuted and became miniscule after Day 30. Thymocytes from recipients were found to be entirely of donor cell type by Day 15. Thereafter, however, as the graft versus host reaction (GVHR) developed, changes in sensitivity of the thymocytes to four different alloantisera directed toward donor histocompatibility antigens (H-2b, Thy 1.2, Lyt 1.2, and Lyt 2.2) were observed and these changes were associated with changes in antigen expression or quantity of Thy 1 antigens on the thymocytes. A different pattern of changes was observed in antigen expression on thymocytes in mice given B6 marrow cells that had been pretreated with anti-Thy 1 serum which prevented initiation of graft-vs-host disease and in the mice which received marrow not so treated and which regularly led to graft-vs-host disease. By contrast, the amount of H-2 antigen on the thymocytes from chimeras with or without GVHR was elevated equally. The mechanisms of these changes are discussed.
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