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Prenat Diagn. 2008 Mar;28(3):186-90. doi: 10.1002/pd.1950.

Smoking in pregnancy is associated with increased total maternal serum cell-free DNA levels.

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  • 1Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Tufts-New England Medical Center, Boston, MA 02111, USA.



Cell-free DNA is a marker of cellular apoptosis and necrosis. We wished to determine if maternal smoking affects maternal and fetal serum cell-free DNA levels.


Case-control sets of stored second-trimester serum-screening samples from 27 smoking and 90 nonsmoking pregnant women were developed. Smoking status was confirmed by measuring serum cotinine levels. Glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) and DYS1 levels were determined using real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to measure total and fetal cell-free DNA, respectively. At delivery, medical records were reviewed to confirm gender and determine other factors that could affect DNA values.


Smoking was associated with significantly elevated GAPDH levels compared with nonsmokers (median: 97,662 genome equivalents (GE)/mL vs 38,217 GE/mL; p = 0.018). DYS1 levels were not statistically significantly elevated in smokers (p = 0.29). Other factors that affected DYS1 levels included maternal age in nonsmokers only (r(2) = 0.30, p = 0.013) and maternal Synthroid use (p = 0.0045)


Pregnant smokers have threefold higher levels of total cell-free DNA compared with pregnant nonsmokers. Maternal age and Synthroid exposure may also affect circulating cell-free fetal DNA levels.

Copyright (c) 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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