Immunologic responses were studied in beagle dogs following prenatal (35 days gestation) irradiation to evaluate the effects of ionizing radiation on the developing immune system. Each dog received 1.5 Gy60 Co γ irradiation or sham irradiation. Prenatally irradiated dogs exhibited a significant reduction in primary humoral antibody responses to inoculated sheep red blood cells, a T-dependent antigen, and a concurrent decrease in T-helper lymphocyte subpopulations in the peripheral blood at 3 to 4 months of age. Similarly, irradiated fetuses have been shown to have defects in epitheliostromal development of the thymus. It is suggested that the postnatal immunologic deficits may relate to the prenatal thymic injury.

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