A study reveals a forgotten organ in the chest that may be the key to preventing miscarriage in pregnant women!
The nation press services
2020-12-24 | Since 4 Month
A study has shown that an unknown organ in the chest called the thymus gland (or thymus) may be crucial in protecting pregnant women and their unborn babies.
The organ was found in the center of the chest, and scientists now believe it plays a major role in regulating the immune system during pregnancy.
Fetal development for nine months is a major immune challenge, and experts haven't fully understood how the female body adapts to it.
Researchers now say that protecting the thymus gland and ensuring it functions properly during pregnancy can prevent miscarriage and diabetes in pregnant women.
Female sex hormones direct the thymus gland to produce specialized immune cells called T cells. The thymus also produces a specific subset of T cells called Tregs, which regulate other immune cells and prevent them from breaking down.
The researchers found that during pregnancy, sex hormones in the female body instruct the thymus to produce more Treg cells specifically designed to keep the immune system in check, and not attack the developing fetus.
The study, published in the journal Nature, revealed that the main receptor on the surface of the thymus that controls this process is called RANK, and not all women have.
"We learned that RANK is expressed in the thymus, but its role in pregnancy was not known," said Professor Joseph Benninger, senior author at the time at the Austrian Academy of Sciences.
And in vitro studies were done on mice, where the RANK receptor was removed to see its effect on pregnancies.
The lead stomach, Dr Magdalena Paulino, at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, says removing RANK receptors means there are fewer Tregs produced by the thymus.
"This reduced the number of Tregs in the placenta, which led to higher rates of miscarriage," she adds.
The researchers analyzed the cases of women with diabetes during pregnancy. And just like mice, pregnant women with diabetes had fewer Tregs in the placenta.
This indicates that the forgotten organ plays a vital role in ensuring a woman has a healthy pregnancy.
Professor Benninger said: “The thymus changes dramatically during pregnancy and how reconnecting entire tissue contributes to a healthy pregnancy has been one of the remaining mysteries in immunology. Pregnancy hormones reconnect the thymus through RANK - but it has revealed a new paradigm for its function. It only changes the mother's immune system, so she does not reject the fetus, but also controls the mother's metabolic health. "
The results indicate that new therapies targeting the thymus can ensure a healthy pregnancy, especially among women with diabetes.