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Prenat Diagn. 2007 Dec;27(13):1228-32.

Noninvasive prenatal diagnosis of beta-thalassaemia using individual fetal erythroblasts isolated from maternal blood after enrichment.

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Department of Medical Genetics and Athens University School of Medicine, Athens, Greece.


Single nucleated red blood cells (NRBCs) isolated from maternal circulation were used for prenatal diagnosis of beta-thalassaemia. The study included 22 pregnant women in the first trimester, 6 carriers at risk for beta-thalassaemia and 16 noncarriers. Methodology involved enrichment of NRBCs by magnetic cell sorting (MACS) and microdissection of single NRBCs with a laser micromanipulation system. Single-cell genotyping based on nested real-time PCR for genotyping beta-globin gene mutations was performed followed by a multiplexed minifingerprinting to confirm the origin of the isolated cells and possible contamination. Two polymorphic markers (D13S314 and GABRB3) facilitated the identification of fetal NRBCs through comparison of allele sizes found in the respective parents. In this study, 224 single NRBCs were detached and transferred into individual PCR tubes. Allele amplification in at least one microsatellite marker was achieved in 128/224 cells. Minifingerprinting analysis showed that 22 cells were fetal, 26 maternal and 80 were noninformative due to ADO or homozygosity. In 6 NRBCs the beta-globin gene was amplified and in 2, coming from the same pregnancy, only the paternal mutation was detected. The low PCR success when genotyping isolated NRBCs was possibly due to the poor quality of fetal NRBCs and the relatively large size of the beta-globin gene product.

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