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Hum Genet. 2003 Feb;112(2):204-8. Epub 2002 Nov 12.

Maternal serum cell-free fetal DNA levels are increased in cases of trisomy 13 but not trisomy 18.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Genetics, Tufts-New England Medical Center, Tufts University School of Medicine, 750 Washington Street, Box 394, Boston, MA 02111, USA.


Cell-free fetal DNA in the maternal circulation is a potential noninvasive marker for fetal aneuploidies. In previous studies with Y DNA as a fetal-specific marker, levels of circulating fetal DNA were shown to be elevated in women carrying trisomy 21 fetuses. The goal of this study was to determine whether cell-free fetal DNA levels in the serum of pregnant women carrying fetuses with trisomies 13 or 18 are also elevated. Archived maternal serum samples from five cases of male trisomy 13 and five cases of male trisomy 18 were studied. Each case was matched for fetal gender, gestational age, and duration of freezer storage to four or five control serum samples presumed to be euploid after newborn medical record review. Real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction amplification of DYS1 was performed to measure the amount of male fetal DNA present. Unadjusted median serum fetal DNA concentrations were 97.5 GE/ml (genomic equivalents per milliliter; 29.2-187.0) for the trisomy 13 cases, 31.5 GE/ml (18.6-77.6) for the trisomy 18 cases, and 40.3 GE/ml (3.7-127.4) for the controls. Fetal DNA levels in trisomy 13 cases were significantly elevated ( P=0.016) by analysis of variance of the ranks of values within each matched set. In contrast, fetal DNA levels in trisomy 18 cases were no different from the controls ( P=0.244). Second trimester maternal serum analytes currently used in screening do not identify fetuses at high risk for trisomy 13. Fetal DNA may facilitate noninvasive screening for trisomy 13 provided that a gender-independent fetal DNA marker can be developed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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