Table of Contents
ISRN Nursing
Volume 2011, Article ID 893819, 4 pages
Review Article

Microchimerism: Sharing Genes in Illness and in Health

Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, US Food and Drug Administration, 5515 Security Lane, Rockville, MD 20852, USA

Received 12 January 2011; Accepted 24 February 2011

Academic Editor: A. Green

Copyright © 2011 Maureen A. Knippen. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Microchimerism is defined as the presence of two genetically distinct cell populations in the same individual. It can arise from several causes including the bidirectional transfer of cells between mother and fetus during pregnancy, twin-to-twin transfer in utero, from organ transplantation, and blood transfusion. Recently, scientists have found male fetal cells from decades earlier imbedded in tissues and organs of some women with autoimmune diseases. The significance of these findings as they relate to real or potential health implications in autoimmune diseases, graft-versus-host reactions, and transfusion complications is discussed here.