Cells passed from mother to child during pregnancy live on and make insulin

The phenomenon is known as microchimerism, and it is still unclear as to whether the presence of such cells can be harmful to the recipient. A Bristol team has looked for maternal cells in children with type 1 diabetes, an immune-mediated disorder, and found that around 20 per cent of these children have unusually high levels of maternal DNA in their circulation. An even more surprising finding is that some maternal cells have entered the child's pancreas and are functioning there as insulin-producing beta cells. The study, initially undertaken in the belief that maternal cells might trigger autoimmunity in the child, has now taken an interesting new twist, for the maternal cells might even be helping the child to repair injury.

In this study, published in the January 22 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr Kathleen Gillespie and Professor Edwin Gale from the Department of Clinicl Science @ North Bristol in collaboration with Professor J. Lee Nelson and colleagues at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, found no evidence that the mother's cells were attacking the child's insulin cells and no evidence that the maternal cells were targets of an immune response from the child's immune system.

Instead, the researchers found a small number of female islet beta cells in male pancreatic tissue (procured from autopsies) that produced insulin. Microchimerism is the term used when an individual harbors cells or DNA that originate from another genetically distinct individual. “To our knowledge a maternal contribution to endocrine function has not previously been described,” the authors said. “Our findings also raise the possibility that naturally acquired microchimerism might be exploited to therapeutic benefit.”

The study also found significantly higher levels of maternal DNA in the peripheral blood of 94 children and adults with Type 1 diabetes as compared to 54 unaffected siblings and 24 unrelated healthy subjects they studied.

Originally, the study of 172 individuals and pancreatic tissue from four males was designed to ask the question whether small numbers of maternal cells might be involved in any way in Type 1 diabetes. “Our initial theory was that perhaps, in some situations, too many cells cross from mother to fetus in pregnancy. Could diabetes result because the child lost tolerance to those cells because they are genetically half foreign? Our research appears to disprove this,” said Professor Gale. “It is possible that the maternal cells may even be helping to regenerate damaged tissue in the pancreas.”

The investigators are excited about the observation that maternal microchimerism results in cells that make insulin – these maternal stem cells could provide new insights into how insulin producing beta cells are generated.

Media Contact

Joanne Fryer EurekAlert!

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.bristol.ac.uk

Alle Nachrichten aus der Kategorie: Studies and Analyses

innovations-report maintains a wealth of in-depth studies and analyses from a variety of subject areas including business and finance, medicine and pharmacology, ecology and the environment, energy, communications and media, transportation, work, family and leisure.

Zurück zur Startseite

Kommentare (0)

Schreib Kommentar

Neueste Beiträge

Cyanobacteria: Small Candidates …

… as Great Hopes for Medicine and Biotechnology In the coming years, scientists at the Chair of Technical Biochemistry at TU Dresden will work on the genomic investigation of previously…

Do the twist: Making two-dimensional quantum materials using curved surfaces

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have discovered a way to control the growth of twisting, microscopic spirals of materials just one atom thick. The continuously twisting stacks of two-dimensional…

Big-hearted corvids

Social life as a driving factor of birds’ generosity. Ravens, crows, magpies and their relatives are known for their exceptional intelligence, which allows them to solve complex problems, use tools…

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close