A Discussion on the 'Ear' Under Water || The Transmission of Anti-Brucella Agglutinins from the Mother to the Young in Erinaceus europaea

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  • The Transmission of Anti-Brucella Agglutinins from the Mother to the Young in ErinaceuseuropaeaAuthor(s): B. MorrisSource: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences, Vol. 152, No.946, A Discussion on the 'Ear' Under Water (Apr. 26, 1960), pp. 137-141Published by: The Royal SocietyStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/75369 .Accessed: 05/05/2014 10:19

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  • The transmission of anti-Brucella agglutinins from the mother to the young in Erinaceus europaea

    BY B. MORRIS

    Department of Zoology, Nottingham University

    (Communicated by F. W. R. Brambell, F.R.S.-Received 4 November 1959)

    The transmission of anti-Brucella agglutinins to the young from mothers immunized during pregnancy, and from mothers immunized before and during pregnancy was studied. There is no significant transfer of anti-Brucella agglutinins before birth, and the post-natal transfer of these antibodies is of a very low order. The highest concentration obtained in the sera of suckling young was only 3 % of that in the maternal sera. At parturition the titre of the milk is of the same order as that of the maternal serum, but with suckling it declines to about 25 % of the maternal serum titre.

    INTRODUCTION

    In ruminants, horse and pig the transmission of passive immunity from the mother to the young occurs after birth. The antibodies present in the colostrum and milk are rapidly absorbed by the gut of the young animal. In the rat, mouse and dog some transmission occurs before birth, but the greater part occurs after birth.

    In man, rabbit and guinea-pig transmission is entirely pre-natal. In the rabbit

    (Brambell et al. 1949) and guinea-pig (Barnes 1959) it is known that the yolk-sac splanchnopleur is concerne(d in the uptake of antibody from the uterine lumen. The allantochorionic placentae, which are haemochorial in type, are not involved in antibody transmission. In the rat the yolk-sac splanchnopleur performs a similar function, but transmission across the placenta could not be excluded in this

    species (Brambell & Halliday I956). The experiments described herein were designed to study the transmission of

    passive immunity in a representative of a primitive mammalian order, the hedgehog in which the allantochorionic placenta is haemochorial, and in which the decidua

    capsularis and the lower avascular bilaminar segment of the yolk-sac remain intact

    throughout pregnancy (Morris I957).

    TECHNIQUE

    In 1958 female hedgehogs were caught in the breeding season and were immunized

    against Brucella abortus. The animals received subcutaneous injections, at 7-day intervals, during their period of captivity before parturition. Each injection being 1.5 ml. of a mixture composed of a standardized Br. abortus suspension, Eucerin and liquid paraffin in the proportions 1:1:2. The maternal serum was tested for the presence of specific circulating antibody before the first immunizing injection. A standardized suspension of Br. abortus was used for setting up the agglutination tests, as in routine agglutination tests of bovine sera. Serial dilutions of the test

    [ 137 ]

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  • 138 B. Morris

    fluid were prepared and equal volumes of the antigen were added. The tubes were incubated at 37 ?C for 20 h. Readings were recorded as follows:

    ++ ++ Complete agglutination. Supernatant fluid clear. + + Partial agglutination.

    + Slight agglutination, with some clearing of the supernatant fluid. The animals were examined each morning and evening, and parturition invariably

    occurred during the night. In some cases all the members of a litter were killed and sampled simultaneously, and the sera of these young animals were titrated at the same time as the corresponding maternal serum. Otherwise the young were culled at intervals, the maternal serum and milk being titrated on the removal of the last of the young. After the collection of serum samples the stomachs and intestines of the young were examined for the presence of milk. In 1959 females, many of which had received immunizing injections in 1958 and had been kept in hibernation through the winter, were kept in breeding pens and immunizing injections were administered at fortnightly intervals before and during pregnancy. Each injection consisting of 2 ml. of the mixture described above.

    -.s& OBSERVATIONS

    The results obtained during the 1958 season are shown in table 1. Many litters were lost at birth, the young being killed by the mothers. The removal of some of the new-born young so disturbed the mothers, that the remaining litter members were killed, as in nos. 1, 4 and 5, or in some cases the remaining young were not suckled.

    TABLE 1. THE OCCURRENCE OF ANTIBODIES IN THE SERA OF NEW-BORN AND

    SUCKLING YOUNG OF MOTHERS IMMUNIZED DURING PREGNANCY

    period of antibody titres captivity r X -

    before serum maternal litter parturition age of of , no. (days) young gut contents young serum milk

    1 31 birth nil -1/10 + + +1/320, + + 1/160

    2 22 birth nil -1/10 + + + 1/320 + + + 1/320 4 37 birth nil -1/10 + + +1/160 5 30 birth nil -1/10 + + +-1/640, -

    + 1/1280 3 31 1.0 h milk in stomach + + 1/10

    amd duodenum 24 h * -1/10 + + +1/320 + + +1/160

    8 10 birth nil -1/10 - - 24 h milk in stomach -1/10 - 48 h milk in stomach + + 1/10 + + + 1/640, + + + 1/160,

    and duodenum + + 1/280 + + 1/320 * Gut contained some milk-like material, but this animal had not suckled in the last 12 h.

    In litters 1, 3, 4 and 5 the mothers were captive for 30 days or more before the litters were born. In Erinaceus the period of pregnancy probably does not exceed 40 days, but it was possible that the period of pre-natal transfer, if one existed,

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  • Transmission of anti-Brucella agglutinins 139

    might have passed before a sufficiently high antibody titre had been built up. An attempt was therefore made to breed the animals in captivity and to immunize them before pregnancy. Many of the females used had received immunizing injec- tions in 1958; these had been kept over winter and were released into breeding pens in April 1959. It was hoped that these animals would prove more amenable to

    handling. In Erinaceus a single immunizing injection, 2 ml. of the mixture described above,

    produces an antibody titre of - + +1/1280 after 10 days. Subsequently this titre

    gradually declines. It was found that fortnightly injections would maintain the serum titre at levels in the region of 1/640 to 1/1280 over long periods. Since in this

    species there was no certainty concerning the timing of oestrus and successful

    mating, it was resolved to administer injections at 14-day intervals, commencing in late April.

    The results obtained are shown in table 2.

    TABLE 2. THE OCCURRENCE OF ANTIBODIES IN THE SERA OF NEW-BORN AND

    SUCKLING YOUNG OF MOTHERS IMMUNIZED BEFORE PREGNANCY

    antibody titres

    maternal litter serum of no. age of young gut contents young serum milk

    9 6 h nil + -1/10 -+ + + 1/160 + + 1/640 6 h milk in stomach

    10 birth nil -1/10 2 days [ -1/10 - 4 days +stomach and gut + + + 1/10, ++ + 1/160, + + 1/80,

    tfull of milkad +1/20 + + 1/320 + + 1/160 6 days + + + 1/10,

    + + 1/20 11 12 h

    }

    1 nil -1/10 + + -1/320, + + +1/320

    12 h +1/640 12 12 h milk in stomach -1/10 -

    4 days ) f +++1/20 ++ 4-1/640 + + +1/160 6I days gut full of milk + + +1/20, -

    J 4+ ++1/40 14 121 l milk in stomach -1/10

    21 days and duodenum

    + +1/10 4i days *gut empty +1/10 + + + 1/640 + + +1/160

    * Had not suckled in last 24 h-removed from nest-just alive.

    These results, some of which were briefly reported in a preliminary note (Morris I959), confirm those obtained earlier and show that there is no significant transfer of anti-Brucella agglutinins from the mother to the young before birth.

    The young of one female were allowed to suckle for longer periods, and the sera were sampled at intervals. The maternal serum and milk which were sampled 22 days after parturition had titres + + + 1/640 and + + + 1/80, + + 1/160, respectively, and the young were weaned at 39 days of age. The results are shown in table 3.

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