Monday, June 11, 2012

Why Doesn’t a Mother’s Immune System Reject Her Unborn Baby?

Scientists discover that the woman’s Immune cells never get the message to attack a fetus.

Summary: Why doesn’t a pregnant woman’s immune system regard her developing fetus as foreign tissue and reject it? This long-standing question has now been partially answered by an important discovery by researchers at NYU School of Medicine. "What we found was completely unexpected at every level," said lead investigator, Adrian Eriebacher, MD, PhD, associate professor of pathology. 

The scientists discovered that the implantation of an embryo sets off a process that  turns off a pathway needed for the immune system to attack foreign bodies. Immune cells are thereby never recruited to the site of the implantation to harm the developing fetus. 

The body’s immune defense system normally responds to foreign tissues and pathogens by producing chemokines (proteins that carry signals). The chemokines recruit immune cells such as T cells that attack the pathogens. However, during pregnancy, even though the foreign antigens (substances that produce antibodies) of the fetus and placenta make contact with the cells of the maternal immune system, no tissue rejection response occurs. 

Eriebacher and his team knew from previous research that T cells are unable to perform their expected roles of attacking the fetus as a foreign body. They decided to focus their attention on the properties of the decidua, the structure that surrounds the fetus and placenta. Using a mouse model, the researchers found that at the onset of pregnancy, the genes responsible for recruiting immune cells are turned off within the decidua. As a result, T cells do not gather to attack the fetus and placenta because the chemokine genes are “silenced” and unable to recruit T cells. The observed change is called an “epigenetic” modification in the DNA because the modification happens without a mutation having occurred.

Dr. Eriebacher explained that a defect in this process could lead to such complications of pregnancy as preterm labor and spontaneous abortions. The findings might also have implications in the study of tumors, autoimmune diseases, organ transplantation and cancer.

(Photo of a 3-month-old fetus with placenta from Wikipedia, by the National Museum of Health and Medicine)

To read the entire article, click on SCIENCE DAILY.

Comment: The question raised and partially answered in this story is just one of many that might get a thinking person to wonder about the reasonableness of the dominant theory of human origins. Here we see how mere systems and cells in the body are sending and receiving messages as if they were a human communication network or warning system. How could such a complex arrangement have arisen by random, unguided processes?

Secondly, there is the timing element. If the immune system in the mother’s body had evolved first before the protective system for her fetus, how could any human fetus have survived long enough to have continued the species? If the protective fetus system evolved before the immune system, why would it have done so before there was a need? And how could the human species have survived without the immune system in place right from the beginning because the immune system is itself a protective system? If both systems evolved at exactly the same time, how reasonable is that considering their complexity?

Questions like these undoubtedly have a lot to do with why only 15% of Americans participating in the most recent Gallup survey stated their belief that God had nothing to do with the development of humans on earth. Some 32% of respondents have been influenced enough by the arguments of evolutionists to have bought into the theory, except they can’t bring themselves around to believing all this has happened without some divine guidance.

Almost half (46%) of those participating in Gallup’s poll indicated that God directly created humans pretty much as they are today, and no evolution from pre-human primate to modern human has taken place. They are not convinced there is any scientific evidence to suggest otherwise, and their position avoids the problem of explaining how such complicated systems as the protective immune system and the protective system for fetuses could have originated. “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out“ (Romans 11:33)!  

God designed the protective systems for both born and unborn humans for life on the present earth. But He has also designed a protective system for ensuring we will enjoy life in our future home in heaven. If we do not cut ourselves off from the Word of God and Jesus Christ, the Son of God and our Savior, we need not fear our enemy, the devil, who wants to end the protection God offers us. “He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8). 

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What bad habit do many people have which is not good for the health of their spines?

Crossing one’s legs when sitting puts the spine out of alignment and can result in back pain. The best sitting posture includes both feet firmly on the floor with knees level with the hip.

Source: Spry (April, 2012)


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