In this study scientists have shown the fetal liver cell engraftments into multiple tissues of adult healthy mice, achieved without suppressing the animals' immune systems.
Fetal cells from the livers of male C57Bl/6J Black lineage mice at day 13 to 15 of gestation were injected intravenously into female adult CC57W/MY White mice.
The grafting was evaluated by Y-chromosome-specific PCR, cytometric analysis of fluorescently stained donor cells, and histological analysis.
All the methods consistently showed the presence of multiple engraftments randomly distributed through the various organs of the recipients.
After 60 days, the grafts still constituted 0.1 to 2.75% of the tissues.
The grafted cells did not change their appearance in any of the organs except the brain, where they became enlarged.
Inflammatory reactions were not detected in any of the histological preparations.
The frequency of engraftments was higher in the liver, indicating that similarity between the donor and recipient cells facilitates engraftment.
The high inherent plasticity of fetal liver cells underlies their ability to integrate into healthy recipient organs, which can be governed by environmental conditions and connections with neighboring cells rather than by the initial cellular developmental programs.
The fact that fetal liver cells can be grafted into multiple tissues of healthy animals indicates that they can be used to replace the natural loss of cells in adult organisms.
This study indicates the possibility to apply fetal cells as potent therapeutic agents in tissue degenerating diseases.
As aging is one of such degenerating conditions there is a possibility that fetal cell therapy could be a potent tool in preventing age onset and treating age related diseases.