Microchimerism, namely the presence and persistence of cells originating from other individuals, is common in women. ‘Foreign’ cells, which often derive from pregnancy, occur at low concentrations, and reside in tissues and organs throughout women’s bodies. Also during pregnancy, cells traffic from the pregnant woman to her fetus, where they may engraft and persist. Although pregnancy is the most common source of microchimerism, other unknown sources exist. The microchimerism epidemiology (ME) group is investigating the secretive etiology of microchimerism. Intriguingly, microchimerism is strongly associated with health. The scarce literature demonstrates an increased risk of autoimmune disorders, but also a decreased risk of malignancy in women who harbor alien cells compared with women who do not. The ME group also investigates the role of microchimerism in women’s and children’s health. Microchimerism research is based on biological material. We are utilizing blood samples and data from unique cohorts of elderly women and their offspring, and repeat blood donors, in combination with health data from national registries to learn about:
- The etiology of microchimerism in women and children
- Links between microchimerism, preeclampsia, and cardiovascular disease in women
- Associations between microchimerism and malignancies in women
- Relations between microchimerism and autoimmunity in children
Our research is carried out in close cooperation with national laboratories, and peers from the few international microchimerism environments. Our expertise in this field is the use of standard and customized epidemiological designs and analytical approaches to test and develop hypotheses.
Associate professor Mads Kamper-Jørgensen