Fetal Stem Cells Can Repair the Mother During Pregnancy

One of the benefits of pregnancy is increased regenerative ability in the mother, a fact observed in a number of studies. The underlying mechanisms are illustrated in recent research, and is one of a number of related effects that might inform future research directions in regenerative medicine: "Scientists are devoting countless research hours to treatments based on embryonic stem cells, differentiating these blank-slate cells from embryos into brain cells, light-sensing retinal cells, blood cells, and more to replace damaged or destroyed tissues in the body. Now, a new study in mice shows such that nature has arrived at just such a solution, too: When a pregnant mouse has a heart attack, her fetus donates some of its stem cells to help rebuild the damaged heart tissue. ... The researchers started with two lines of mice: normal mice and mice genetically engineered to express green fluorescent protein (GFP), which glows a distinctive green when exposed to blue light, in their cells. They mated normal female mice with GFP-producing male mice. This meant that half the resulting fetuses had the GFP gene, too, making their cells glow, too. Twelve days later - a little less than two-thirds of the way through a normal mouse pregnancy - the researchers gave half the pregnant mice heart attacks. When the scientists examined the female mice's heart tissue two weeks after the heart attacks, they found lots of glowing green tissue - cells that came from the fetus - in the mom's heart. Mice who had heart attacks had eight times as many cells from the fetus in their hearts as mice who hadn't had a heart attack did, meaning the high volume of fetal cells was a response to the heart attack. ... Doctors have observed that women who experience weakness of the heart during pregnancy or shortly after giving birth have better recovery rates than any other group of heart failure patients. This study suggests that fetal stem cells may help human mothers, as well as mice, recover from heart damage."

Link: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2011/11/21/helpful-mouse-fetuses-naturally-send-stem-cells-to-mom-to-fix-her-damaged-heart/


One clarification: To my knowledge, stem cells from that fetal age are not embryonic stem cells at all. A second- or third-trimester fetus capable of donating extra stem cells is long past being an embryo. Like the stem cells in the cord blood of neonates, they're "adult" stem cells. Or rather, they are not (non-induced) pluripotent cells anymore.

Attempting to link the benefits of these fetal stem cells specifically to embryonic stem cells and denying their status as adult stem cells is inaccurate at best. Given the controversial status of embryo-destructive research and the non-controversial status of adult stem cell research, this distinction is culturally important in addition to its scientific significance.

Posted by: Amelia at December 4th, 2011 7:02 PM

@Amelia: Are you saying that the cells they are finding are not from the Baby, but from the Mother? Or are you saying that the stem cells found are mature fetal stem cells? Is this possibly because the pluripotent cells only deal with development of the Baby and new organ development?

Posted by: Delores at July 7th, 2013 2:10 AM

Count on a "clarification" to require clarification.

A neonate is a newborn, so when Amelia writes, "Like the stem cells in the cord blood of neonates", she likens those stem cells to the mature stem cells found in the umbilical cord of a newborn.

Posted by: Downstrike at October 5th, 2013 5:04 AM

can the stem cells from the mother be used for her two babies in future

Posted by: abinaya at March 20th, 2014 11:50 PM

if the stem cells are such useful for the mother as well as fetous then can it be useful for other all diseases as nowadays people are getting affected with major diseases like hepatitis B and C to which there is no medicine as per our present medicine research so will the fetous get protected even for such type of affects too

Posted by: subha attili at June 26th, 2014 9:16 AM

@Delores: Amelia is saying that the cells are from the baby, but are NOT embryonic stem cells but "adult" stem cells. Also, she is saying that using this research to justify embryonic stem cell research (which requires the death of many fetuses) is logically inappropriate.

Posted by: neanderthal at October 14th, 2015 4:17 AM

Are there specific treatments just for the mother, of a high risk pregnancy, using stem cells? My colleague has been telling me specifically, Chinese mothers coming to the USA for stem cell treatments and to give birth with them. This I find confusing. Anyone?

Posted by: audra Flaherty at June 8th, 2019 7:17 PM

I am not commenting. Iam asking stem cells is good during pregnant women?

Posted by: James at May 25th, 2022 6:20 PM
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