Your cells are my cells.

University of Washington, Seattle, USA.
Scientific American (Impact Factor: 1.33). 03/2008; 298(2):64-71. DOI: 10.1038/scientificamerican0208-72
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: The science of gestational cell transfer—research into the transfer of cells between a pregnant woman and foetus during gestation—and subsequent mingling of transferred cells, or microchimerism, is bringing new attention to the maternal/foetal interface. These findings challenge previous biological understandings of a barrier between the body of a pregnant woman and developing foetus, a barrier maintaining the identity integrity as it were, of two beings, two separate subjects. In this sense, the maternal–foetal interface is an interesting bio-political object, predicated upon understandings of individuals as discrete and bounded organisms, an understanding that has been strongly implicated in immunology, as Donna Haraway, Emily Martin and others have argued. Findings of cellular transfer across this interface raise questions about intermingling and permeability of human organism boundaries. However, these findings are important not only for insight into gestational biology, but because they are emerging in a broader biomedical context of the development of cellular therapies and regenerative medicine. These therapeutic strategies call attention to chimerism as a naturally occurring and iatrogenic biological state, highlighting the permeability and permissiveness of bodies to the intermingling of cells, an idea that runs counter to biological, political and social understandings of selves as individuated, discrete and purely self. A theoretical framework of immuno-politics raises implications of trouble at the maternal/foetal interface, and suggests that chimeric, permeable bodies are of increasing value as cellular therapeutic strategies gain in importance for human health.
    Science as Culture 06/2012; 21(2):233-257. DOI:10.1080/09505431.2011.628014 · 0.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The relationship between maternal and child immunity has been actively studied in the context of complications during pregnancy, autoimmune diseases, and haploidentical transplantation of hematopoietic stem cells and solid organs. Here, we have for the first time used high-throughput Illumina HiSeq sequencing to perform deep quantitative profiling of T cell receptor (TCR) repertoires for peripheral blood samples of three mothers and their six children. Advanced technology allowed accurate identification of 5 × 10(5) to 2 × 10(6) TCR beta clonotypes per individual. We performed comparative analysis of these TCR repertoires with the aim of revealing characteristic features that distinguish related mother-child pairs, such as relative TCR beta variable segment usage frequency and relative overlap of TCR beta complementarity-determining region 3 (CDR3) repertoires. We show that thymic selection essentially and similarly shapes the initial output of the TCR recombination machinery in both related and unrelated pairs, with minor effect from inherited differences. The achieved depth of TCR profiling also allowed us to test the hypothesis that mature T cells transferred across the placenta during pregnancy can expand and persist as functional microchimeric clones in their new host, using characteristic TCR beta CDR3 variants as clonal identifiers.
    Frontiers in Immunology 12/2013; 4:463. DOI:10.3389/fimmu.2013.00463
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    ABSTRACT: Maternal microchimeric cells (MMc) transfer across the placenta during pregnancy. Increased levels of MMc have been observed in several autoimmune diseases including type 1 diabetes but their role is unknown. It has been suggested that MMc are 1) effector cells of the immune response, 2) targets of the autoimmune response or 3) play a role in tissue repair. The aim of this study was to define the cellular phenotype of MMc in control (n = 14) and type 1 diabetes pancreas (n = 8). Using sex chromosome-based fluorescence in-situ hybridization, MMc were identified in male pancreas and their phenotype determined by concomitant immunofluorescence. In normal pancreas, MMc positive for endocrine, exocrine, duct and acinar markers were identified suggesting that these cells are derived from maternal progenitors. Increased frequencies of MMc were observed in type 1 diabetes pancreas (p = 0.03) with particular enrichment in the insulin positive fraction (p = 0.01). MMc did not contribute to infiltrating immune cells or Ki67+ islet cell populations in type 1 diabetes. These studies provide support for the hypothesis that MMc in human pancreas are derived from pancreatic precursors. Increased frequencies of MMc beta cells may contribute to the initiation of autoimmunity or to tissue repair but do not infiltrate islets in type 1 diabetes.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(1):e86985. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0086985 · 3.53 Impact Factor