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Chimerism. 2011 Jan;2(1):6-10. doi: 10.4161/chim.2.1.15151.

Male microchimerism in peripheral blood leukocytes from women with multiple sclerosis.

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1
International Research and Training; Blood Systems Research Institute (BSRI); San Francisco, CA, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Fetal microchimerism (F-MC), the persistence of fetal cells in the mother, is frequently encountered following pregnancy. The high prevalence of F-MC in autoimmune disease prompts consideration of the role for immune tolerance and regulation. This study examines the association between F-MC and multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disorder, of undetermined etiology.

RESULTS:

21 out of 51 MS-positive subjects (41%) were classified as positive for F-MC; 4 of 22 (18%) of MS-negative sibling controls, were also positive for MC (p = 0.066). Unanticipated F-MC in controls lead to re-evaluation using 30 female singleton cord blood units (CBUs) as a biological control. Four CBUs were low-level positive.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS:

Seventy-three female subjects were assigned to three groups according to disease status and pregnancy history: (1) MS positive (+) women with a history of one male pregnancy before symptom onset (n = 27); (2) MS negative (-) female siblings of MS(+) women with a history of one male pregnancy (n = 22); and (3) MS(+) women that reported never having been pregnant (n = 24). Ten micrograms of genomic DNA obtained from peripheral blood leukocytes of each subject were analyzed for F-MC using allele-specific real-time PCR targeting the SR-Y sequence on the Y-chromosome. MC classification was dichotomous (positive vs. negative) based on PCR results.

CONCLUSION:

The association between F-MC and MS warrants further study to define this relationship. F-MC in women self-reporting as nulligravid, supports previous findings that a significant proportion of pregnancies go undetected. This lead to re-validation of a Y-chromosome based assay for F-MC detection.

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