The present study has demonstrated that rabbit anti-mouse lymphocyte serum (RAMLS) has the capability of destroying bone marrow cells and suppressing hemopoietic stem cell function. The in vitro incubation of bone marrow suspensions with RAMLS caused extensive cell lysis with an apparent preferential destruction of lymphoid, erythroid, and blastoid elements. Using the spleen colony assay, the number of functional hemopoietic stem cells was found to be markedly reduced in bone marrow populations exposed to RAMLS in vitro. Further, this loss of stem cell function could be produced by exposing marrow suspensions to small concentrations of antiserum which did not produce detectable cytotoxic effects on the general marrow population.
A similar effect of RAMLS upon hemopoietic stem cells was found in vivo. The intravenous injection of RAMLS into lethally irradiated mice immediately after the infusion of isogeneic marrow cells reduced the number of spleen colonies formed, indicating that the antiserum could exhibit a deleterious effect upon stem cells in the bloodstream of the intact animal. Normal animals treated with daily subcutaneous injections of RAMLS for 3 wk had a significantly reduced marrow content of functional hemopoietic stem cells, suggesting that RAMLS can affect stem cells located in situ in the bone marrow. The experiments indicate that RAMLS possesses potential marrow toxicity.