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Findings Spotlight Maternal Role in Prenatal Transplants

Last Updated: August 24, 2009.

Following prenatal cell transplantation, the mother's immune response may hinder the offspring's tolerance of the cells, according to animal research published online Aug. 3 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

MONDAY, Aug. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Following prenatal cell transplantation, the mother's immune response may hinder the offspring's tolerance of the cells, according to animal research published online Aug. 3 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Demetri J. Merianos, M.D., of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues discuss their findings involving in utero hematopoietic cell transplantation (IUHCT) in embryonic mice. The mice were injected with whole bone marrow cells via the vitelline vein on day 14 of gestation. The authors note that the injected mothers became sensitized against the donor cells.

The researchers discovered that offspring put in the care of non-injected foster mothers all maintained their chimerism for six months following IUHCT. However, only 30.4 percent of pups nursed by mothers who were given injections of the cells while pregnant maintained their chimerism for five weeks following the treatment. Mothers whose pups received the transplants later transmitted their antibodies against the cells through nursing.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study documenting maternal immunization and its consequences after IUHCT. Multiple mechanisms have been implicated that contribute to maternal-fetal tolerance, both at the placental interface and systematically. The important observation from this study is that, at least in the context of IUHCT, one cannot assume that the normal mechanisms responsible for maternal-fetal tolerance will prevent a maternal immune response against donor cells," the authors write.

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