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Y-chromosome in the olfactory neuroepithelium as a potential biomarker of depression in women with male offspring: an exploratory study

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The persistence of fetal cells in the mother (fetal microchimerism (FMc)) has been described in maternal tissues essential to the newborn. FMc is associated with several diseases that start or worsen in pregnancy or postpartum. This exploratory study reports—for the first time—the presence of FMc in the olfactory neuroepithelium (ON) of both healthy and depressed women with male offspring. However, depressed women had fewer microchimeric cells (digital PCR). The existence of FMc in the ON could facilitate mother–child bonding. These findings open new pathways to study FMc in the ON, female depression, and mother–child bonding.

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The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are not publicly available due to the fact that this study is descriptive in nature but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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This research was supported by CIBER—Consorcio Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red (21 Group), Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación and Unión Europea—European Regional Development Fund—(PI15/0039) and unrestricted funding of the Secretaria d’Universitatts i Recerca del Departament d'Economia i Coneixement de la Generalitat de Catalunya Government of Catalonia (SGR_00101, 2021 SGR_00253).

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Authors and Affiliations



PÁ, BB, FC and PR conceptualized and designed the study. AT and JMG collected the clinical data and VPS supervised data collection and analysis. MBC performed the exfoliation and culture of ON cells, and PR and RdlT conducted the supervision and analysis of ON samples. RL and LFI performed the detection and quantification of SRY gene and BB coordinated and supervised this work. PÁ, BB, FC, VPS and PR reviewed the results and contributed to interpretation. PÁ wrote the first draft of the manuscript and all authors critically reviewed and revised the manuscript. All authors have contributed to and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Pilar Álvarez.

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Competing interests

Beatriz Bellosillo received honoraria for speaker, consultancy or advisory role from Amgen, Astra-Zeneca, Biocartis, Janssen, Lilly, Merck-Serono, Novartis, Qiagen, Roche Diagnostics, Roche Pharma, ThermoFisher, Pfizer and BMS. The other declare no competing interests.

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Álvarez, P., Bellosillo, B., Colom, F. et al. Y-chromosome in the olfactory neuroepithelium as a potential biomarker of depression in women with male offspring: an exploratory study. Mol Cell Biochem (2023).

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