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Hum Genet. 1992 Sep-Oct;90(1-2):1-6.

Oocyte selection: a new model for the maternal-age dependence of Down syndrome.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle 98195.


Previously proposed mechanisms for Down syndrome (trisomy 21) have generally invoked a progressive increase in meiotic nondisjunction to explain maternal-age dependence, but models of this sort have failed to predict the observed patterns of marker segregation. Here we propose instead that age-dependent trisomy 21 results primarily from a mechanism that favors maturation and utilization of euploid oocytes in preference to the pre-existing aneuploid products of mitotic (premeiotic) nondisjunction. The increased utilization of aneuploid oocytes at later stages of maternal life would result from their increased proportion following many progressive cycles of selection against their maturation in earlier stages. Derivation of a quantitative model and evaluation of existing data indicate that the pattern of marker segregation associated with age-dependent trisomy 21 supports the proposed mechanism.

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