Gender differences in stem cell population are induced by pregnancy

Department of Obstetrics/Gynecology, College of Medicine, University of South Florida, United States.
Medical Hypotheses (Impact Factor: 1.07). 07/2012; 79(4):481-3. DOI: 10.1016/j.mehy.2012.06.029
Source: PubMed


Gender differences in stem cell population have recently been identified. Blood and tissue samples from women showed consistent elevation of hematopoietic stem cell populations, mesenchymal stem cell populations and endothelial progenitor cells compared to men of similar ages. We and others have shown an increase in hematopoietic stem cell population in pregnant and multiparous women compared to nulliparous women. We propose that pregnancy exposes women to increased levels of stem cells from many sources not available for nulliparous women or for men. During pregnancy, maternal fetal microchimerism results from trafficking of fetal and maternal blood across the placenta. Physiological changes in the maternal blood cellular milieu are also recognized during pregnancy and in the early post partum due to the presence of unique pregnancy associated tissues and hormones. These include the placenta, the amniotic fluid and cord blood. These tissues are highly enriched for different populations of stem cells including hematopoietic stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells and endothelial progenitor cells. Recent studies showed accelerated healing in women affected by cardiovascular insults and stroke, in part due to faster tissue regeneration and stem cell activity. We propose that gender differences in stem cell population are caused in part due to maternal exposure to fetal and unique pregnancy associated tissues, which are significantly enriched in different stem cell populations.

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    ABSTRACT: Stroke is a significant unmet clinical need. The current stroke treatment of tissue plasminogen activator is limited to the very acute 4.5 h after disease onset which benefits only less than 3% of ischemic stroke patients. Our overarching hypothesis advances the notion that gender, which has been established as a comorbidity factor of stroke, plays a key role in regenerative medicine, in particular stem cell therapy. We hypothesize that gender is a key factor in culture-induced stemness of adult stem cells. Our goal is to provide new evidence supporting gender effects on stroke and stem cells for the purpose of enhancing our understanding of the pathophysiology of the disease and developing novel stem cell-based therapeutics targeting gender-relevant stress hormones as manifested in a stroke-postpartum depression paradigm.
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