The use of allogeneic thymus transplantation as a means of inducing tolerance across MHC barriers was investigated in thymectomized, total lymphoid irradiated BALB/c mice. In 90% of the animals long term outgrowth of histologically normal C57BL thymus grafts was observed. None of the latter animals was chimeric. All thymus graft-bearing mice showed specific nonresponsiveness for C57BL MHC Ag in mixed lymphocyte reaction and cell-mediated lympholysis. Spleen cells of the C57BL thymus-bearing mice were unable to induce lethal graft-vs-host disease in neonatal (BALB/c X C57BL) F1 mice but provoked a vigorous graft-vs-host disease reaction in (BALB/c x C3H) F1 neonates. Tolerant mice permanently accepted C57BL heart and pancreas grafts, but all rejected C3H grafts. Induction of tolerance of BALB/c pre-T cells through allogeneic thymus graft and/or specific suppressor cells seems to be involved. The present model offers new opportunities to study thymocyte maturation in a fully allogeneic environment and may yield applications for clinical organ transplantation.

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