Pregnancy-induced maternal microchimerism shapes neurodevelopment and behavior in mice


  • S. Schepanski
  • M. Chini
  • V. Sternemann
  • C. Urbschat
  • K. Thiele
  • T. Sun
  • Y. Zhao
  • M. Poburski
  • A. Woestemeier
  • M.T. Thieme
  • D.E. Zazara
  • M. Alawi
  • N. Fischer
  • J. Heeren
  • N. Vladimirov
  • A. Woehler
  • V.G. Puelles
  • S. Bonn
  • N. Gagliani
  • I.L. Hanganu-Opatz
  • P.C. Arck


  • Nature Communications


  • Nat Commun 13 (1): 4571


  • Life-long brain function and mental health are critically determined by developmental processes occurring before birth. During mammalian pregnancy, maternal cells are transferred to the fetus. They are referred to as maternal microchimeric cells (MMc). Among other organs, MMc seed into the fetal brain, where their function is unknown. Here, we show that, in the offspring's developing brain in mice, MMc express a unique signature of sensome markers, control microglia homeostasis and prevent excessive presynaptic elimination. Further, MMc facilitate the oscillatory entrainment of developing prefrontal-hippocampal circuits and support the maturation of behavioral abilities. Our findings highlight that MMc are not a mere placental leak out, but rather a functional mechanism that shapes optimal conditions for healthy brain function later in life.