Why doesn't an expectant mother's immune system damage her growing baby - since it has 'foreign' DNA?
This fundamental phenomenon has yet to be fully explained.
“During pregnancy, the maternal immune system is exposed to a major challenge. The fetus expresses paternal alloantigens, yet it is not rejected”
“Pregnancy represents a major challenge to immunologic tolerance. How the fetal 'semiallograft' evades maternal immune attack is unknown.”
Source (Journal of the American Society of Hematology, 2011 vol. 117 no. 6 pp 1861-1868)
It's known that a specialised type of immune response cell called uterine Natural Killer cells (uNK cells) play a part in suppressing the mother's immune response. They make up about 70% of the leukocytes (white blood cells) in the uterus during early pregnancy. Their precise function, method of action, and their origin, is currently unknown. (see Int. J. Dev. Biol. 54: 281 - 294)
Similarly, the developing baby also has its own (developing) immune system - which somehow accepts the presence of the mother's cells, even though they have differing DNA to its own.
Also see :
Ideas for new topics, and suggested additions / corrections for old ones, are always welcome.
If you have skills or interests in a particular field, and have suggestions for Wikenigma, get in touch !
Or, if you'd like to become a regular contributor . . . request a login password. Registered users can edit the entire content of the site, and also create new pages.
( The 'Notes for contributors' section in the main menu has further information and guidelines etc.)
You are currently viewing an auto-translated version of Wikenigma
Please be aware that no automatic translation engines are 100% accurate, and so the auto-translated content will very probably feature errors and omissions.
Nevertheless, Wikenigma hopes that the translated content will help to attract a wider global audience.