Three types of fetal cells can migrate into maternal organs during pregnancy

June 6, 2012

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.

Three types of have now been identified in the lungs of late-term pregnant mice by a team led by Dr. Diana Bianchi of Tufts Medical Center. The research, published 6 June 2012 in 's Papers-in-Press, used publicly available databases to extract important genetic information from as few as 80 fetal cells. A combination of two different analytical techniques to characterize the rare fetal cells revealed a mixed population of trophoblasts (placental cells that provide nutrients to the fetus), mesenchymal stem cells (cells that later develop into fat, cartilage, or bone cells), and .

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 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 , 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.

Explore further: Fetal stem cells from placenta may help maternal heart recover from injury

More information: Pritchard S, Wick HC, Slonim DK, Johnson KL, Bianchi DW. Comprehensive analysis of genes expressed by rare microchimeric fetal cells in maternal lung. Biol Reprod 2012; (in press). Published online ahead of print 6 June 2012; DOI 10.1095/biolreprod.112.101147

Related Stories

Fetal stem cells from placenta may help maternal heart recover from injury

November 14, 2011
Researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine have discovered the therapeutic benefit of fetal stem cells in helping the maternal heart recover after heart attack or other injury. The research, which marks a significant ...

Recommended for you

Scientists find key to regenerating blood vessels

November 23, 2017
A new study led by researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) identifies a signaling pathway that is essential for angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing vessels. The ...

Surprising roles for muscle in tissue regeneration, study finds

November 22, 2017
A team of researchers at Whitehead has illuminated an important role for different subtypes of muscle cells in orchestrating the process of tissue regeneration. In a paper published in the November 22 issue of Nature, they ...

Study reveals new mechanisms of cell death in neurodegenerative disorders

November 22, 2017
Researchers at King's College London have discovered new mechanisms of cell death, which may be involved in debilitating neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.

How rogue immune cells cross the blood-brain barrier to cause multiple sclerosis

November 21, 2017
Drug designers working on therapeutics against multiple sclerosis should focus on blocking two distinct ways rogue immune cells attack healthy neurons, according to a new study in the journal Cell Reports.

New simple test could help cystic fibrosis patients find best treatment

November 21, 2017
Several cutting-edge treatments have become available in recent years to correct the debilitating chronic lung congestion associated with cystic fibrosis. While the new drugs are life-changing for some patients, they do not ...

Researchers discover key signaling protein for muscle growth

November 20, 2017
Researchers at the University of Louisville have discovered the importance of a well-known protein, myeloid differentiation primary response gene 88 (MyD88), in the development and regeneration of muscles. Ashok Kumar, Ph.D., ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.