For the analysis of immunologic escape mechanisms of embryos during the implantation period in mice, the effects of culture supernatant of blastocysts on in vitro responsiveness to alloantigen of mice was investigated. Blastocyst-cultured conditioned medium was prepared by culturing late blastocysts of outbred ICR mice for 5 days. The addition of culture supernatant containing four or eight blastocysts to allogeneic mixed lymphocyte culture inhibited both the MLR responses and the generation of cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL). Preincubation of the culture supernatant with lymphocytes syngeneic to the responder cells of MLR induced potent suppressor cell activity in the MLR. The supernatant did not inhibit the activity of CTL at the effector phase, but preinduced suppressor cells obtained by incubation of splenocytes with the supernatant showed almost complete suppression of CTL activity at the effector phase. Both of the suppressor cells, active on MLR and at the generation phase of CTL as well as active at the effector phase, had a surface phenotype of Thy-1+ and Ig-. The suppressive material could be extracted from the eight-cell stage of fertilized ova or blastocysts but not from unfertilized ova, indicating that the production of the factor(s) is dependent on the stages of early embryogenesis. These results suggest that the active induction of suppressor T lymphocytes by the factor(s) released from implanted embryos is one of the protective mechanisms from maternal immunologic attack.

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