Trees Lepez

Trees Lepez



















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Detection and characterization of fetal microchimeric cells in autoimmune diseases


Some auto-immune diseases occur more frequently in women. The difference in sexes could be explained by for example differences in hormone levels. Recently however, there is a new hypothesis in which fetal microchimeric cells could play a role in the development of an auto-immune disease. During pregnancy, there is a transfer of fetal cells, through the placenta, from the fetus to the blood circulation of women. These cells persist there decades post-partum. Fetal cell microchimerism is presumed to be associated with some maternal autoimmune diseases such as systemic sclerosis and autoimmune thyroid diseases because of the high incidence in women post-partum and because of the similarities with graft-versus-host disease. Detection and further characterization of the male fetal cells in women post-partum with an autoimmune disease may result in a better understanding of the pathogenesis of the disease.

Male fetal cells can be distinguished from female maternal cells by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) with CEP X SpectrumOrange/ CEP Y SpectrumGreen DNA probes. We developed an automatic detection procedure using an AxioVision Commander Script. The coordinates of the detected regions are stored in a data table which can be used for relocation of the male cells for further analyses. After detection, the male identity can be confirmed using Y-STR PCR after laser capture microdissection.

The detected fetal cells will be further characterized using monoclonal antibodies to determine their possible role in auto-immune diseases.