Male microchimerism in women with systemic sclerosis and healthy women who have never given birth to a son

Ann Rheum Dis. 2005 Jun;64(6):845-8. doi: 10.1136/ard.2004.029314. Epub 2004 Nov 18.


Background: Male DNA or cells are often used to measure microchimerism in a woman. In studies of autoimmune diseases male microchimerism is most often attributed to the previous birth of a son.

Objective: To determine the frequency of male microchimerism in healthy women or women with systemic sclerosis who had never given birth to a son.

Methods: Real time quantitative polymerase chain reaction targeting the Y chromosome specific sequence DYS14 was employed to test DNA extracted from peripheral blood mononuclear cells of 26 women with systemic sclerosis and 23 healthy women who had never given birth to a son.

Results: are expressed as the genome equivalent number of male cells per million host cells (gEq/mil).Results: Male DNA was found in 15% of women with systemic sclerosis (range 0 to 23.7 gEq/mil) and in 13% of healthy women (range 0 to 5.1 gEq/mil). Although two women with male DNA had an induced abortion, most had no history of spontaneous or induced abortion (either systemic sclerosis or healthy).

Conclusions: Microchimerism with male DNA can be found in the circulation of women who have never given birth to a son. Thus sources other than a male birth must be considered when male DNA is used to measure microchimerism. Although other studies are needed, there was no apparent difference in women with systemic sclerosis and healthy women. Possible sources of male DNA include unrecognised male pregnancy or unrecognised male twin, an older male sibling with transfer through the maternal circulation, or sexual intercourse alone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced
  • Abortion, Spontaneous / genetics
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Autoimmune Diseases / genetics*
  • Chimerism*
  • Chromosomes, Human, Y / genetics*
  • DNA / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Pregnancy
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / genetics*


  • DNA