Monday , January 24 2022

First cell map to avoid pregnancy complications


Scientists from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, Newcastle University and the University of Cambridge (UK) publish this week on the cover of Nature magazine the most detailed cellular map to date of contact between a mother and her future child. This atlas of cellular composition highlights the keys to avoid the most common early problems and to get a successful task without complications.

Researchers, including Spanish brothers Roser and Miquel Vento-Tormo, have been able to map more than 70,000 transcripts of healthy cells collected between week 6 and 14, due to complex and genomic bioinformatics.

The idea was to understand the mechanisms that happen in the first trimester of pregnancy without complications. Thus, we have created a reference map of all cells and their interactions in order to compare in the future the differences between healthy and problem gestation, explains Roser Vento-Tormo, of the Wellcome Sanger Institute.

We have discovered which genes alter maternal immunity and allow for the correct development of the fetus, explains Roser Vento

The analysis focuses on the first trimester, as it is a crucial moment that determines the survival of the embryo (and the subsequent fetus). During these first weeks, the placental fetal cells – which interact with the mother's to modify their immune response – are being formed to try to avoid a situation of rejection.

Because of them, the embryo is able to adhere to the uterus in the decidua, which is the most intimate layer of the pregnant uterus that thickens to promote implantation. In addition, it serves as a way to nourish and oxygenate the fetus in the coming months.

"For the first time in history, we were able to see the genes that are active in the cells that make up decidua and placenta, discovering which are the ones that modify the maternal immune system and allow for the correct development of the fetus," says Vento.

Fewer complications

Chances of suffering complications during pregnancy are greater in the first few weeks when the fetus is not yet consolidated. In fact, two out of three spontaneous abortions happen spontaneously during the first trimester.

Vento clarifies that for the time being, the study focused exclusively on understanding a healthy pregnancy. However, in the future we will be able to predict whether there is any kind of alteration at the beginning of pregnancy by analyzing the patient's evidence.

Muzlifah Haniffa, a Newcastle University researcher, adds that these results "will have important implications for better understanding what happens when a pregnant woman suffers from preeclampsia or even when spontaneous abortion occurs."

In the future, experts will be able to predict whether there are any changes at the beginning of a task

For experts, this finding will also have an important impact on cancer studies because it is known that tumor cells use similar mechanisms to avoid the immune system and to feed on the bloodstream and increase size.

A free access database

The results were achieved thanks to the creation of a tool developed in collaboration with Miquel Vento-Tormo and his team at the Spanish software development company YDEVS.

This database, which they called CellPhoneDB, collects information about molecules and their interactions, as well as predicting the most likely cellular interactions. According to Roser Vento, "this tool can be applied on any fabric." "I made my brother Miquel accessible to everyone."

Cell map of the human body

This study is part of the Human Atlas Cell initiative, an international consortium led by Sara Teichmann, one of the chief supervisors of this publication, and a researcher at the Wellcome Sanger Institute.

"With this initiative, we plan to produce a complete reference map of all human cells to better diagnose disease," Vento concludes.

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