Cell migration from baby to mother

Cell Adh Migr. 2007 Jan-Mar;1(1):19-27. Epub 2007 Jan 28.


Fetal cells migrate into the mother during pregnancy. Fetomaternal transfer probably occurs in all pregnancies and in humans the fetal cells can persist for decades. Microchimeric fetal cells are found in various maternal tissues and organs including blood, bone marrow, skin and liver. In mice, fetal cells have also been found in the brain. The fetal cells also appear to target sites of injury. Fetomaternal microchimerism may have important implications for the immune status of women, influencing autoimmunity and tolerance to transplants. Further understanding of the ability of fetal cells to cross both the placental and blood-brain barriers, to migrate into diverse tissues, and to differentiate into multiple cell types may also advance strategies for intravenous transplantation of stem cells for cytotherapeutic repair. Here we discuss hypotheses for how fetal cells cross the placental and blood-brain barriers and the persistence and distribution of fetal cells in the mother.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier
  • Cell Movement*
  • Female
  • Fetus*
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance*
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange*
  • Mice
  • Organ Specificity
  • Placenta
  • Pregnancy
  • Stem Cell Transplantation