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Sci Rep. 2019 Mar 27;9(1):5247. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-41733-w.

Determining the extent of maternal-foetal chimerism in cord blood.

Author information

1
Sanquin Research, Dept of Hematopoiesis, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and Landsteiner Laboratory, Amsterdam UMC, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
2
Sanquin Diagnostics BV, Department of Immunogenetics, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
3
Willem-Alexander Children's Hospital, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.
4
Department of Immunohematology and Blood Transfusion, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.
5
Sanquin Research, Dept of Hematopoiesis, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and Landsteiner Laboratory, Amsterdam UMC, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. d.amsen@sanquin.nl.

Abstract

During pregnancy, maternal T cells can enter the foetus, leading to maternal-foetal chimerism. This phenomenon may affect how leukaemia patients respond to transplantation therapy using stem cells from cord blood (CB). It has been proposed that maternal T cells, primed to inherited paternal HLAs, are present in CB transplants and help to suppress leukaemic relapse. Several studies have reported evidence for the presence of maternal T cells in most CBs at sufficiently high numbers to lend credence to this idea. We here aimed to functionally characterise maternal T cells from CB. To our surprise, we could not isolate viable maternal cells from CB even after using state-of-the-art enrichment techniques that allow detection of viable cells in heterologous populations at frequencies that were several orders of magnitude lower than reported frequencies of maternal T cells in CB. In support of these results, we could only detect maternal DNA in a minority of samples and at insufficient amounts for reliable quantification through a sensitive PCR-based assay to measure In/Del polymorphisms. We conclude that maternal microchimerism is far less prominent than reported, at least in our cohort of CBs, and discuss possible explanations and implications.

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