Factors influencing maternal microchimerism throughout infancy and its impact on infant T cell immunity
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Baby girls who are exclusively breastfeed have a higher proportion of cells from their mothers.
A fetus acquires some cells from their mother in the womb, and a small amount of these cells remain into infancy and even childhood. Infants have widely varying proportions of these maternal cells, but factors that determine the proportion were unknown.
Now, a team led by researchers from the University of Cape Town in South Africa has found four factors that contribute to a higher ratio of maternal cells in infants: female babies; infants who are feed solely by breastfeeding; mothers without HIV; and high immunological compatibility between mother and baby.
The researchers also found that infants with higher levels of maternal cells at birth exhibited more robust T cell responses to the commonly administered BCG vaccine.
- The Journal of Clinical Investigation 132, e148826 (2022). doi: 10.1172/jci148826