Teratogen-induced apoptosis may be affected by immunopotentiation

V. Toder*, S. Savion, M. Gorivodsky, J. Shepshelovich, Z. Zaslavsky, A. Fein, A. Torchinsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Intra-uterine immunization of mice with paternal allogeneic or xenogeneic (rat) splenocytes was found to increase embryo tolerance to cyclophosphamide (CP)-induced teratogenesis. As the CP-induced teratogenic effect was shown to be associated with apoptosis, the present study was designed to investigate whether the protective effect of immunopotentiation may be realized via an alteration of CP-induced apoptosis. Various doses of CP were injected intraperitoneally into ICR mice on day 12 of pregnancy. Intra-uterine immunization with xenogeneic rat splenocytes was carried out 3 weeks before mating. Implantation sites, resorptions, live and dead fetuses, as well as soft tissue anomalies and external malformations, were recorded to evaluate the CP-induced embryotoxic effect. In parallel, flow cytometric analysis and DNA fragmentation assay were used for evaluation of CP-induced apoptosis in limbs, tail and whole embryos. The treatment of mothers with a high dose of CP induced the death of almost all embryos and striking fetal growth retardation in survivors. This strong embryotoxic effect was accompanied by very prominent DNA degradation in cells collected from whole embryos. Immunostimulation caused a dramatic decrease of embryonal loss (by ~ 50%) and a significant (about 30%) increase in fetal weight. Such an increase in fetal survival and in fetal weight was found to be accompanied by a clear decrease in apoptosis level in embryo cell populations as judged by DNA gel electrophoresis with subsequent quantitation of DNA fragmentation in negatives by an image analysis technique. After treatment with a low dose of CP, a decrease in the proportion of fetuses with limb and tail anomalies in immunized females was accompanied by a decrease in the proportion ofapoptotic nuclei in cells taken from limbs and tails. The results of this study suggest that the teratogen-induced apoptosis may, at least partly, be dependent on fetomaternal immune interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-185
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Reproductive Immunology
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - May 1996


  • Apoptosis
  • Fetomaternal immunoreactivity
  • Teratogens


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