In women with MS, we have found that pregnancy delays time to symptom onset, slows biological ageing, and protects against disability accumulation. However, the mechanisms underlying these long-term effects of pregnancy on MS outcomes are not well understood.
One possible mechanism is foetal microchimaerism (FMC), which is the presence and effect of foetal cells in the maternal blood or other tissues. Foetal cells enter the maternal blood throughout pregnancy and can remain detectable for decades thereafter. FMC may foster immune tolerance that may be beneficial in autoimmune diseases such as MS, and this could help explain the disparity in MS outcomes between women, and between sexes.
This research therefore aims to establish associations between FMC detected in the blood of women with MS, and their disability and biological ageing.
Updated: 16 November, 2021
Laboratory research that investigates scientific theories behind the possible causes, disease progression, ways to diagnose and better treat MS.
Research that builds on fundamental scientific research to develop new therapies, medical procedures or diagnostics and advances it closer to the clinic.
Clinical research is the culmination of fundamental and translational research turning those research discoveries into treatments and interventions for people with MS.