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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Increased total cell-free DNA in the serum of pregnant women carrying a fetus affected by trisomy 21.

OBJECTIVE: Analysis of the levels of cell-free fetal and total DNA in serum of women carrying a male fetus affected by trisomy 21, and comparison of these levels with those in women carrying a normal male fetus. METHODS: DNA was extracted from archived second-trimester maternal serum samples collected as part of a prenatal screening program. A total of 10 cases with trisomy 21 male fetuses were compared with 10 controls (male fetuses) with samples matched for duration of storage and gestational age. Real-time quantitative PCR of the SRY and albumin genes was used to quantify fetal and total DNA respectively. RESULTS: The median fetal DNA level in the group of 10 pregnancies with trisomy 21 was 31.98 cell-equivalents per mL compared to 34.06 in the control group. The difference was not significant. The median total DNA level in women with a trisomy 21 fetus was significantly higher (P = 0.029) than that in controls (36 152.6 vs 5832.81 cell-equivalents per mL). CONCLUSIONS: Although we could not confirm previous studies of an increased amount of fetal DNA in pregnancies affected by trisomy 21, we did find increased levels of total DNA. The possible reasons for these observations are discussed with respect to previous findings. Larger studies are needed to elucidate the true value, if any, of measurement of fetal and total DNA in maternal serum in the context of prenatal screening for chromosomal abnormalities.[1]


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