Chimerism pp 153-179 | Cite as

Autoimmune Disease

  • Nathalie LambertEmail author


The first “autoimmune disease” for which fetal chimeric cells had been implicated in its pathogenesis, about a century ago, is preeclampsia. Indeed pregnancy complications could accentuate feto-maternal trafficking at an immunologically immature stage and leave long-term sequelae in the mother. In 1998, postdelivery fetal microchimerism (FMc) was found to be more prevalent in women with scleroderma (SSc) compared to matched controls. One hypothesis might be that microchimeric fetal T cells are activated and induce a graft-versus-host reaction manifesting as SSc. In the current chapter, we detail the arguments for a role of fetal cells as immune effector cells and explain the way chimeric cells may interact together in a particular Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) context. We also show this mechanism has some limitations and review the different factors that may have contributed to discredit this hypothesis. Moreover, studies in SSc and other autoimmune diseases have described fetal but also maternal Mc, in tissues, which raises the question of a restorative function within these tissues by different natural immigrants from diverse origin. The answer is probably not simple as multiple “grafts” across generations may all play a role.


Microchimerism Autoimmune diseases Preeclampsia Scleroderma Systemic lupus erythematosus Rheumatoid arthritis Tissue repair 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aix Marseille Univeristy, INSERM UMRs 1097, Arthrites Autoimmunes AAMarseilleFrance

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