Fetal Cells Cross Enemy Lines Wearing a Cloak of Invisibility

December 5, 2013. Marta Wegorzewska, PhD candidate.

In the last blog post, we learned fetal DNA swims in the mother’s blood!1

Now, in a two series blog post, we are going to talk about two questions scientists are thinking about since we learned fetal DNA is found in the mother’s blood.

How does it get there?

Does the mother’s immune system know the fetal DNA is there?

The answers to these questions are important because scientists are beginning to think too much fetal DNA in the mother’s blood may cause problems during pregnancy. DNA from the mother can also be found in fetal blood, and evidence is building that increased levels of the mother’s DNA in fetal cord blood may be associated with preterm labor. If we know how it is getting there, we can stop it!

This work is funded in part by the Graduate Student Internships for Career Exploration (GSICE) program at UCSF

This post is checked by the following science articles:

1. Lo YM, Corbetta N, Chamberlain PF, Rai V, Sargent IL, Redman CW, Wainscoat JS. 1997. Presence of fetal DNA in maternal plasma and serum. Lancet 350: 485-7.