Trafficking of cells between the fetal-maternal circulations has been appreciated since the 1940s, with most cells removed from the circulation by the immune system.

Studies have shown, however, that these non-self or chimeric cells can escape elimination by the immune system and survive in the tissue and blood for years. Speculation exists as to the potential role of these chimeric cells in immune-mediated disease.

D.W. Bianchi and colleagues reported that fetal cells persist in the maternal circulation after the birth of the child. Utilizing male specific Y-chromosome sequences, they found persistence of these cells in women up to 27 years after childbirth (

Proc Natl Acad Sci USA
.
1996
;
93
:
705
-708
).

Maternal cells have been reported in fetal cord blood samples as early as 13 weeks' gestation and in tissue of newborns with congenital anomalies. Persistence of maternal cells, or DNA of presumably maternal origin,...

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