The physical connection of mother and offspring during pregnancy allows the bi-directional exchange of a small number of cells through the placenta. These cells, which can persist long-term in the recipient individual are genetically foreign to it and therefore fulfill the principle of microchimerism. Over the last years, pioneer research on microchimeric cells revealed their role in immune adaptation during pregnancy and priming of tolerogenic responses in the progeny. However, the mechanisms involved in cell transfer across the placenta barrier remain poorly investigated. In this review, we summarize the evidence of fetomaternal microchimerism, propose a mechanism for cell trafficking through the placenta and discuss the different models and techniques available for its analysis. Likewise, we aim to generate interest in the use of ex vivo placenta perfusion to investigate microchimerism in physiological and pathological settings.
- Placenta perfusion
- Placental barrier