A little piece of genetic material, known as a microchimerism, is often left behind, as a small reminder that a baby was there, even if it was just for a very short time.
Digging for buried treasure
Researchers from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre were digging around in the brain’s of women who had died and graciously donated their body’s to science. They were looking for the male chromosome – the big Y chromosome.
Now on paper, since the genetic recipe to be a lady requires two copies of the X chromosome, a Y in the works, should be IMPOSSIBLE.
The brains they were studying, 59 in total, came from women ranging in age from 32 to 101. You read right – a card carrying member of the 100 club, not too shabby.
Now some of the ladies (33) had died with neurological troubles, most notably Alzheimer’s disease, but many of the ladies (29) had no neurological problems when they died.
Baby’s calling cards
The big surprise…… 63 % of the ladies did have a Y chromosome or two, tucked away in their brain.
The little bits of Y chromosome were found in different spots, throughout the brain.
Where could it come from ?
The Y chromosome is the calling card of a male fetus.
NOTE : Little girls will also have left a calling card in their Mom, but picking up their X chromosome is not quite so easy.
Surprise notes to Mom
Scientists have known for some time that some fetal cells escape the womb and get inside Mom’s circulation.
In fact, the phenomenon can be used to monitor the genetic status of the developing fetus safely and the technology is replacing aminocentesis and chorionic villi sampling.
The surprise….. these cells manage to penetrate the security zone around the brain, it is like Fort Knocks, and stick around, forever. The oldest brain which had male fetal DNA in this study was 94 years old.
If your remember your Greek mythology, The Chimera, was a mythical creature made up of bits and pieces of different animals.
This mixing of genetic material from Mom and fetus during pregnancy is referred to known as microchimerism – a small chimera.
Are these calling cards good or bad ?
No one really knows for sure.
In these ladies, there was no evidence to suggest that the presence of these special little calling cards, contributed to their neurological troubles.
But, other studies of male microchimerism in women have found it can sometimes cause trouble, contributing to autoimmune problems.
A note of love
The role of a calling card is to let you know the person cared enough to call on you.
It is cool to think, the little lives that begin in your womb – care enough to leave a calling card for you.
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