Maternal-fetal cross talk through cell-free fetal DNA, telomere shortening, microchimerism, and inflammation

Shi Bin Cheng, Sarah Davis, Surendra Sharma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


There exists a strong correlation between unscheduled inflammation at the maternal-fetal interface and the continuum of pregnancy complications. In normal pregnancy, immunological tolerance is established to protect the semi-allogeneic fetus. There has been extensive research on how the immunity, endovascular trophoblast migration, and hormonal nexus are orchestrated during pregnancy at the maternal-fetal interface to program a normal pregnancy outcome. It is not clear what contributes to the plasticity of uterine immune tolerance, fetal survial, and long-term post-partum health of the mother and the offspring. Old and new concepts have reemerged and emerged that include cell-free fetal DNA (cffDNA), telomere shortening, microchimerism involving bidirectional migration of maternal and fetal cells, and pregnancy as a stress factor. The question is how these pathways converge in a gestational age-dependent manner to contribute to the health of the mother and the offspring later in life and respond to an array of inflammatory challenges. In this Review, we provide pertinent discussion on maternal-fetal cross talk through cffDNA, telomere shortening, and microchimerism in the context of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory settings, particularly how these pathways lead to normal and adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12851
JournalAmerican Journal of Reproductive Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


Dive into the research topics of 'Maternal-fetal cross talk through cell-free fetal DNA, telomere shortening, microchimerism, and inflammation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this