Species distribution crossreacting antigens from bacteria or parasites

Only certain animal species express Forssman antigen (Table 1). In humans, approximately 20-30% of individuals possess the antigen. Which particular cells are Forssman positive depends on the species.

Table 1 Occurrence of Forssman antigen in tissues from various animal species

Species

Forssman positive

Carp

Yes

Cat

Yes

Cattle

No

Chicken

Yes

Dog

Yes

Frog

No

Goat

Yes

Goose

No

Guinea pig

Yes

Hamster

Yes

Horse

Yes

Human

20-30%

Mouse

Yes

Musk shrew

Yes

Pig

No

Pigeon

Yes

Quail, Japanese

Yes

Rabbit

No

Rat

No

Sheep

Yes

Turtle

Yes

Some strains of gram-negative (Shigella) as well as gram-positive (Pneumococcus) bacteria carry Forssman specificity. In pneumococci Forssman antigenicity is associated with lipoteichoic acid. Passively acquired Forssman antigen was also found in amasti-gotes of Leishmania proliferating in Forssman-posi-tive murine macrophages; however, here, as in virus grown in Forssman-positive host cell cultures, the antigen was derived from the host cell.

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