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Female fetal cells in maternal blood: use of DNA polymorphisms to prove origin


The nucleated erythrocyte (NRBC) is one of the target fetal cell types for noninvasive genetic diagnosis using maternal peripheral blood. However, it is now known that pregnancy can stimulate the production of maternal NRBCs. When isolating female γ-positive NRBCs, fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis may show two X chromosome signals per nucleus, and therefore it cannot be conclusively determined whether the isolated cells are fetal or maternal in origin. The purpose of this study was to develop a means of verifying that a female cell is fetal on the basis of polymorphic short tandem repeat markers. Peripheral blood samples were obtained from women who had just undergone termination of pregnancy. Nucleated candidate fetal cells were isolated by flow-sorting using antibody to the γ-chain of fetal hemoglobin and Hoechst 33342. FISH analysis was performed using X and Y chromosome specific probes. Female γ-positive cells and leukocytes were micromanipulated separately and subjected to fluorescent polymerase chain reaction amplification of chromosome 21 and/or 18 STR markers (D21S11, D21S1411, D21S1412, and D18S535). In all ten cases analyzed, the γ-positive female candidate fetal cells were determined to be fetal in origin by the presence of shared and nonshared DNA polymorphisms when compared with maternal leukocytes. These results show that genetic analysis can be performed on all fetal NRBCs, including female fetal cells that cannot be distinguished from maternal cells based on FISH analysis alone

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Samura, O., Pertl, B., Sohda, S. et al. Female fetal cells in maternal blood: use of DNA polymorphisms to prove origin. Hum Genet 107, 28–32 (2000).

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  • Short Tandem Repeat
  • Fetal Cell
  • Fetal Hemoglobin
  • Female Candidate
  • Short Tandem Repeat Marker