Fetal cells enter maternal circulation during pregnancy and persist in the woman's body for decades, achieving a form of physiological microchimerism. These cells were also evidenced in tumors. We investigated the frequency and concentration of fetal microchimerism in the local breast cancer environment. From 19 patients with confirmed breast neoplasia, after breast surgical resection, we collected three fresh specimens from the tumor core, breast tissue at tumor periphery, and adjacent normal breast tissue. The presence of male DNA was analyzed with a quantitative PCR assay for the sex determining region gene (SRY) gene. In the group of women who had given birth to at least one son, we detected fetal microchimerism in 100% of samples from tumors and their periphery and in 64% (9 of 14) of those from normal breast tissue. The tissues from the tumor and its periphery carry a significantly increased number of SRY copies compared to its neighboring common breast tissue (p = 0.005). The median of the normalized SRY-signal was about 77 (range, 3.2- 21467) and 14-fold (range, 1.3-2690) greater in the tumor and respectively in the periphery than in the normal breast tissue. In addition, the relative expression of the SRY gene had a median 5.5 times larger in the tumor than in its periphery (range, 1.1-389.4). We found a heterogeneous distribution of fetal microchimerism in breast cancer environment. In women with sons, breast neoplasia harbors male cells at significantly higher levels than in peripheral and normal breast tissue.
Nemescu, D., Ursu, R. G., Nemescu, E. R., & Negura, L. (2016). Heterogeneous distribution of fetal microchimerism in local breast cancer environment. PLoS ONE, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0147675