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Abstract

Male microchimerism is frequent in the adult female liver and is attributed to fetal cells originating from previous male offspring. It has never been studied in pregnant women, female children, or fetuses. We examined its frequency and cellular nature in normal and diseased female livers from fetal life to adulthood. Forty-six liver samples from 29 women, 6 female children, and 11 female fetuses were screened for the Y chromosome via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay and fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH). The X chromosome was used as an internal control. A third PCR assay was used for Y genotyping. The Y chromosome was detected in 5 of 6 children, 7 of 11 fetuses, 3 of 9 women with normal liver, 7 of 10 women with chronic hepatitis C, 5 of 6 women with acute liver disease during pregnancy with male offspring, and 2 of 4 nonpregnant women with fulminant hepatitis. In positive samples, the mean XY/XX ratio was 0.012 (±0.004). In women, male microchimerism was correlated with previous male offspring. Male hepatocytes, detected via FISH combined with anti-hepatocyte immunohistochemistry, were observed only in fetuses (4/9) and in postpartem women (4/6). Y genotypes were different from each other in 4 of 5 female livers. In conclusion, male liver microchimerism is frequent in normal and diseased female livers. The presence of male cells in the liver of female children and fetuses is probably due to the transplacental transmission of fetal cells preexisting in the mother and acquired either from previous pregnancy with male offspring or during the mother's own fetal life. (HEPATOLOGY 2005;42:35–43.)