Monday, October 1, 2012

There's Male DNA in my Brain!

Microchimerism.
 
Jr.'s DNA was traveling into my brain right at this moment.
This is my new favorite word. It means, "the harboring of genetic material and cells that were exchanged between mother and fetus during pregnancy." Apparently, scientists have found that mothers retain some of their male infant's DNA in their body after the baby is born.  This DNA can often be detected years later, even when your son is at the age where they deny any DNA connection to their lame parents.

Geniuses at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center examined brain autopsy specimens from 59 women (relatively low number when it comes to research).  Some of these women were quite young (32) while others were quite old (101).  Sixty-three percent of these women showed male microchimerism in multiple regions of their brain. 

Apparently, scientists have known for awhile that fetal cells frequently cross the human blood-brain barrier.  Researchers aren't quite sure yet if there is any biological significance in a mother harboring her son's DNA in her brain.  Some research has linked these cells with colon cancer, while other research has found them to have a protective factor for the development of breast cancer and reheumatoid arthritis.

For me, the idea of microchimerism is more than just intellectually fascinating.  There is some emotional significance for me in the idea of carrying the building-blocks of Jr.'s existence forever in not only my body, but in my brain.  Who needs the metaphorical "Kissing Hand" connection when you have a real biological connection (read the book if you don't know what I'm talking about!)?  No physical separation can take that away. 

So, is Dr. Momsie getting a little too sappy?  How do you feel about the idea of microchimerism?

3 comments:

  1. I think that's incredible.
    Also, brings new meaning to the phrase "mommy brain", right? LOL!

    ReplyDelete
  2. this is just truly cool - i mean, so very cool! :)

    ReplyDelete

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