In pregnancy the foetus secretes proteins that fool the immune system of the pregnant woman so that it will not attack the foetus. This is shown by Lucia Mincheva-Nilsson, associate professor and researcher at the Department of Clinical Microbiology, Umeå University, Sweden, in the leading publication Journal of Immunology. The findings may be of great importance in transplants and in the treatment of cancer and infertility.
Transplants between humans are easily attacked by the recipient’s immune defense system and can therefore stop functioning and be rejected. But there is one occasion when such tissue transfers succeed and no rejection takes place-during normal pregnancy.
The foetus, as a separate individual, can be seen as a transplant that runs the risk of being rejected, but is accepted and not attacked by the immune system of the pregnant woman. This is a phenomenon that has long stumped scientists. If the reasons for this lack of rejection during normal pregnancy could be understood, it would be a tremendous boon, not only when it comes to certain infertility problems but also for facilitating transplants and enhancing our knowledge of how the immune defense system works.
Bertil Born | alfa
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