The aim of this work was to detect antigens, non-self to the dam, potentially present in chick embryo prior to organogenesis with a view to establishing the consequences of their neutralization on chick development. To this end, hens were immunized with the extract from embryos incubated for 53 h. Their eggs were either used to isolate immunoglobulins for dot and blot tests or incubated for variable lengths of time.
Immunoblot tests, using adsorbed primary and secondary antibodies against paternal serum, revealed the presence of at least four antigens of 32, 34, 70 and 200 kDa that can be classified as soluble alloantigens. The same antibodies against chick embryo extracts (between 53 h and 9) showed at least five aged antigens of 34, 52, 90, 200 and 250 kDa, not detected in cock serum, that can thus be considered as soluble, foreign to the immunized hens and transitory antigens. The abnormalities observed included arrested development and fetal death, as well as minor functional damage in the few chicks that were born alive. The ratio of abnormal to normal embryos was 2.85 in the experimental group and 0.43 in the control group. With regard to congenital anomalies it must be said that of the 81 eggs incubated only four chicks were born alive, and of these, only one had a healthy birth and subsequent growth. The other three showed a transitory ataxia and one of them presented adult lumbar scoliosis and asymmetric pelvis.
The problem of recurrent spontaneous abortions is revisited in the light of these results. Some recent data suggest that soluble alloantigens may be candidates for a new etiological entity in recurrent spontaneous abortions. They can also be the cause of some congenital anomalies. The soluble, foreign, transitory antigens may have a similar effect although there is no supportive data in the literature.