Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationWashington, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9662
Approve DateApril 18, 2018
Project TitlePan, Tiffany D., U. of Washington, Seattle, WA - To aid research on 'Microchimerism: An Evolutionary Perspective,' supervised by Dr. Daniel T.A. Eisenberg
Preliminary abstracts: Beyond classical genetic inheritance, mothers can also transfer immunoglobulins, epigenetic marks, and microbiomes to their offspring. These non-genomic modes of biological transmission can shape offspring phenotypes, allowing evolutionary processes and predictive adaptive responses to work on shorter timescales. We propose to examine the mechanistic and adaptive biology of a lesser-studied, non-classical mode of inheritance. During pregnancy, cells traffic bidirectionally between mother and fetus, and some colonize and persist for decades after birth. This retention of a small number of cells from a genetically different individual is termed microchimerism (Mc). Mc cells are thought to influence host immune function by directly contributing stem cells that differentiate and develop into functional immune cells and expressing foreign antigens that trigger host immune responses. Most Mc research has focused on relationships with autoimmune disorders, cancer, transplant biology, and adverse pregnancy outcomes, leaving considerable gaps in understanding why some individuals are colonized by Mc cells more than others and how these differences might impact fitness. To clarify these issues, we propose using population-based data spanning three generations of participants from the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey in the Philippines to investigate the following specific aims: 1) evaluate whether having been breastfed in infancy predicts Mc in adulthood, 2) assess whether Mc is associated with lower risk of early life infection, and 3) determine whether adult women with Mc from their mothers have lower risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes as they have offspring of their own.