24 July 2015
A team working at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center have discovered the function of a small group of cells that enable pregnant women to pass on the ability to minimise complications while they are expecting.
The tissue, which is made up of microchimeric maternal cells, prevent the woman’s immune system from attacking the foetus as a foreign pathogen. This protection can be passed on from mother to daughter, ensuring the genetic advance is retained for future generations.
Senior author Sing Sing Way said: "Microchimeric maternal cells can be viewed as mother's little genetic helpers, which are shared in offspring to enforce cross-generational reproductive health."
As complications occur in one out of eight pregnancies, even in the developed world, these findings are potentially significant for researchers seeking to mimic the way that nature protects foetuses in developing new pregnancy care regimes.
The researchers are now following up their research by looking into how microchimeric maternal cells can boost immune tolerance in foetuses and babies.
Posted by Philip Briggs
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