Bovine fetal microchimerism in normal and embryo transfer pregnancies and its implications for biotechnology applications in cattle

Lauretta Turin, Pietro Invernizzi, Marion Woodcock, Francesca R. Grati, Federica Riva, Giulia Tribbioli, Götz Laible

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations


Fetal cells and DNA have been detected in the maternal circulation during and after pregnancy in a few mammalian species. The incidence of similar microchimerism in cattle could have repercussion for the application of modern biotechnologies such as the transfer of transgenic embryos. To determine if feto-maternal leakage can occur in pregnant cows, we have analyzed maternal blood samples for the presence of fetal DNA during gestation and post-partum periods. Y chromosome-specific DNA was detected in up to 73% of blood samples from naturally mated heifers carrying conventional bull calves and a transgene-specific sequence in up to 50% of recipient cows carrying transgenic fetuses. These findings document for the first time that transplacental leakage of fetal DNA into the maternal circulation can occur in cattle despite the epitheliochorial placenta of ruminants, with potential implications for the utilization of recipient cows in the food chain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)486-491
Number of pages6
JournalBiotechnology Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2007
Externally publishedYes



  • Bovine
  • Embryo transfer
  • Microchimerism
  • Real-time PCR
  • Transplacental leakage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Molecular Medicine

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