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Older Siblings' Cells Pass from Female Dogs to Their Puppies in the Womb

Some people possess a small number of cells in their bodies that are not genetically their own; this condition is known as microchimerism. In prior studies, researchers from the Univ. of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine found that this condition also exists in dogs. Now, the researchers have found evidence that this condition can be passed from a female dog to her offspring while they are still in the womb. Jeffrey Bryan, an associate professor of oncology at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine and director of Comparative Oncology and Epigenetics Laboratory, says this discovery will help further study into the health effects of microchimerism in dogs and in humans.
“We already have some evidence that microchimerism may increase risk of thyroid disease while lowering the risk of breast cancer in women,” Bryan says. “The pet dog represents an excellent model of many ailments in people, and the presence of fetal microchimerism in dogs will allow studies which further clarify its role in health and disease. Knowing that the condition can be passed on through birth will help us track the condition and its effects through several generations of animals.”

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