Male DNA Found in Brains of Women


If you’re a woman who has been pregnant with a male fetus, you may have male DNA permanently in your body, according to a study that found such genetic material in the brains of women.

The study, published in PLoS ONE, is the first description of male microchimerism in the female human brain. Microchimerism is when someone harbors cells that came from a genetically distinct individual. Or, in the immortal words of the Monkees (singing a Neil Diamond penned song), a person can be A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You.

The serious side of this is that scientists working at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center  have linked the phenomenon to autoimmune diseases and cancer, sometimes for better and other times for worse.

Lead author William Chan, who is in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Alberta, conducted the research while working in the lab of J. Lee Nelson, a member of the Center’s Clinical Research Division and a leading international authority on microchimerism.

The scientists believe it is likely that fetal cells frequently cross the human blood-brain barrier and that microchimerism in the brain is relatively common. Until this study, it was not known whether these cells could cross the barrier in humans.

According to a press release issued by the cancer center:

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