The fetus helps the healing of its mother’s wounds – Presse santé

During pregnancy, the fetus releases cells which cross the placenta, survive and integrate into the mother’s bone marrow. Recent results suggest that these fetal cells accelerate the healing of wounds in the mother, even after birth. A beautiful gift from the baby to his mother.

In eutherian (placental) animals like us humans, the mother’s blood communicates directly with the fetal circulation to provide oxygen and nutrients essential for its development. However, this intimate mother-child communication is not a one-way street: throughout pregnancy, some cells from the fetus reach the maternal circulation and can implant themselves in the mother’s body, particularly in the marrow. bone, where they can remain in a latent state for several decades. This phenomenon, called microchimerism, ensures that mothers have a reservoir of undifferentiated stem cells that are well tolerated by the immune system because they express a half and half mixture of proteins of maternal and paternal origin at their area.

Fetal cells accelerate the healing of wounds in the mother

One of the most important characteristics of stem cells is that they are very versatile and can form a variety of different cells. This is indeed the case for microchimeric fetal cells, as several studies have shown that these cells can be recruited to various organs where they transform into specialized cells (neurons, hepatocytes, enterocytes) capable of replacing those that have been damaged. This phenomenon is particularly evident during the repair of skin wounds following an injury. To replace the cells that have been destroyed, the stem cells present in the deeper layers of the skin divide and migrate towards the lesion to form new healthy tissue which will seal the breach. However, this process requires the formation of a new network of blood vessels by angiogenesis to provide these new cells with the oxygen and nutrients necessary for their functions. And this is where fetal cells come into play: Professor Selim Aractingi’s group (Paris) has shown that fetal cells are present at the level of the mother’s wounds, both before and after childbirth, and that these cells possessed the ability to form blood vessels that contribute to wound repair.

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A relationship of exchange between the mother and the fetus

The work of the same team, recently published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications, provides a better understanding of the mechanisms involved and could make it possible to use this property of fetal stem cells for therapeutic purposes. By specifically isolating the fetal cells involved in wound healing, the researchers discovered that these cells had the characteristic of expressing large amounts of a receptor called Ccr2 on their surface. They also observed that activation of this receptor by a protein (Ccl2) greatly improved wound healing in females who were pregnant or who had given birth, indicating that it was the recruitment of fetal cells that was responsible for this process. . According to the authors, the injection of Ccl2 to mobilize fetal cells could open the way to a new approach for the treatment of chronic skin wounds, such as those associated with diabetes, for example.

The mother-child relationship is therefore not a one-way street as is often believed. Rather, it is a form of exchange, in which the fetus contributes to the mother’s reservoir of stem cells in exchange for food. Who said children were selfish?


Castela M et al. Ccl2/Ccr2 signaling recruits a distinct fetal microchimeric population that rescues delayed maternal wound healing. Common Nat.

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