Sex differences in cancer incidence and survival, including central nervous system tumors, are well documented. Multiple mechanisms contribute to sex differences in health and disease. Recently, the presence of fetal-in-maternal microchimeric cells has been shown to have prognostic significance in breast and colorectal cancers. The frequency and potential role of these cells has not been investigated in brain tumors. We therefore selected two common primary adult brain tumors for this purpose: meningioma, which is sex hormone responsive and has a higher incidence in women, and glioblastoma, which is sex hormone independent and occurs more commonly in men. Quantitative PCR was used to detect the presence of male DNA in tumor samples from women with a positive history of male pregnancy and a diagnosis of either glioblastoma or meningioma. Fluorescence in situ hybridization for the X and Y chromosomes was used to verify the existence of intact male cells within tumor tissue. Fetal microchimerism was found in approximately 80% of glioblastoma cases and 50% of meningioma cases. No correlations were identified between the presence of microchimerism and commonly used clinical or molecular diagnostic features of disease. The impact of fetal microchimeric cells should be evaluated prospectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)484-494
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2018


  • brain tumor
  • fetal microchimerism
  • glioblastoma
  • meningioma
  • pregnancy


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