June 7, 2012
3 Types Of Fetal Cells Can Migrate Into Maternal Organs During Pregnancy
Some mothers literally carry pieces of their children in their bodies
A pregnant woman's blood stream contains not only her own cells, but a small number of her child's, as well, and some of them remain in her internal organs long after the baby is born. Understanding the origin and identity of these cells is vital to understanding their potential effects on a mother's long-term health. For example, fetal cells have been found at tumor sites in mothers, but it is unknown whether the cells are helping to destroy the tumor or to speed its growth.
Researchers suspect that fetal cells in a mother's blood stream help her immune system tolerate and not attack the fetus. The detection of trophoblasts and immune cells in the maternal lung should aid future studies on this subject, as well as research into pregnancy-related complications like preeclampsia. The presence of fetal mesenchymal stem cells corresponds with previous studies that reported fetal and placental cells differentiating to repair injured maternal organs in both mice and humans.
Using this team's techniques of gene expression analysis, researchers should now be better able to identify the types of cells present in maternal organs and in doing so determine their potential short- and long-term effects on a mother's internal systems.
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