How immune system tolerates foreign body like a foetus

July 8th, 2010 - 6:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 8 (IANS) Scientists have found that females produce a particular type of immune cell that helps in accepting a foreign body like a foetus.
The concept of pregnancy makes no sense from an immunological point of view, as a foetus, carrying half of its father’s genes, is biologically distinct from its mother.

The foetus is thus made of cells and tissues that are made of a foreign body - precisely what the immune system is meant to destroy.

Women’s bodies manage to ignore this contradiction in the vast majority of cases, making pregnancy possible.

Scientists have generally paid little attention to this phenomenon - called “pregnancy tolerance” - and its biological details.

Now, a pair of scientists from the California Institute of Technology have shown that females actively produce a particular type of immune cell in response to immune-stimulating proteins, says a Caltech release.

The response allows pregnancy to continue without the foetus being rejected by the mother’s body.

These findings were detailed in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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