Immune responses of intact and embryonically enucleated frogs to self-lens antigens.


Embryonically enucleated frogs (Xenopus) will tolerate an isogeneic eye implanted during adult life although their immune system has never been previously exposed to eye-specific Ag. We hypothesized that such self-implants survive because they induce tolerance to the eye-specific Ag. We have developed evidence to support this hypothesis by studying the responses of embryonically enucleated or intact frogs, with or without eye implants, to self-lens proteins. After immunization with a low concentration of bovine lens proteins, spleen cells from all intact and all embryonically enucleated frogs displayed significant in vitro proliferation against the Ag. All animals in both groups of frogs also produced high titered xenoantibodies. After immunization with a comparable preparation and concentration of self-lens Ag, splenocytes from only some of the embryonically enucleated and intact frogs showed significant proliferation, and fewer of these frogs produced antibody. When the immunization protocol and Ag concentration were modified to evoke consistent anti-self-lens proliferative and antibody responses from enucleated frogs, intact frogs responded equally well. Because there were no significant differences in the magnitude of the responses, and the percent of enucleated and intact frogs responding did not differ, we conclude that there is little or no immunologic tolerance to self-lens Ag in intact frogs. When either embryonically enucleated or intact frogs were heterotopically implanted with isogeneic eyes and then immunized with self-lens Ag or foreign lens Ag using the optimal immunization protocol, the Ag-specific proliferative responses of their lymphocytes were significantly reduced after immunization with self-, but not foreign Ag. This argues that embryonically enucleated frogs can become tolerant of the organ-specific Ag of the lens, even in adult life.