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Lancet. 2004 Jul 10-16;364(9429):179-82.

Microchimerism in female bone marrow and bone decades after fetal mesenchymal stem-cell trafficking in pregnancy.

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Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology, Division of Paediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Campus, London W12 0NN, UK.


Fetal cells enter maternal blood during pregnancy and persist in women with autoimmune disease. The frequency of subsequent fetomaternal microchimerism in healthy women and its cell type is unknown. To test the hypothesis that fetal mesenchymal stem cells persist in maternal organs, we studied female bone marrow and ribs. Male cells were identified by XY fluorescence in-situ hybridisation in marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells and in rib sections from all women with male pregnancies, but not in controls (9/9 vs 0/5, p=0.0005). We conclude that fetal stem cells transferred into maternal blood engraft in marrow, where they remain throughout life. This finding has implications for normal pregnancy, for obstetric complications that increase fetomaternal trafficking, and for graft survival after transplantation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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