Maternal total cell-free DNA in preeclampsia and fetal growth restriction: Evidence of differences in maternal response to abnormal implantation

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© 2018 Rafaeli-Yehudai et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Objectives Preeclampsia and fetal growth restriction are obstetrical syndromes associated with abnormal placental implantation and changes in the activation status of maternal leukocytes. This study is aimed to determine by a simple, rapid fluorescent assay the changes in maternal serum total cell-free DNA (t-cfDNA) concentrations in women with preeclampsia and those with fetal growth restriction (FGR). Study design A cross-sectional study was conducted measuring maternal serum t-cfDNA concentrations. Women were classified into the following groups: 1) patients with preeclampsia (n = 21); 2) FGR-estimated fetal weight below the 10thpercentile (n = 28); and 3) normal pregnancy (n = 39). Serum samples were directly assayed for t-cfDNA using a rapid fluorescent SYBR Gold assay. Elevated maternal serum t-cfDNA concentrations were defined as a cutoff>850ng/ ml. Nonparametric statistics were used for analysis. Results Women with preeclampsia had a higher median maternal serum concentration (802 ng/ml, 400–2272 ng/ml) than women with a normal pregnancy (499 ng/ml, 0–1892 ng/ml, p = 0.004) and those with FGR (484 ng/ml, 72–2187 ng/ml, p = 0.012). Moreover, even patients with FGR <5th percentile and abnormal Doppler had a lower median maternal serum t-cfDNA than those with preeclampsia (median 487 ng/ml, 144–1971 ng/ml, p = 0.022). The median concentration of t-cfDNA did not differ between women with a normal pregnancy and those with FGR (p = 0.54), as well as those with fetuses <5th percentile and abnormal Doppler (p = 0.7). Women with preeclampsia had a higher proportion of elevated t-cfDNA than those with a normal pregnancy (p = 0.015) and patients with FGR (p = 0.025). Conclusions Preeclampsia is associated with higher maternal serum t-cfDNA concentration than normal pregnancy or FGR. This observation may reflect an increased systemic activation of the maternal inflammation, rather than placental; this assumption is supported by the fact that we did not observe a significant change in the maternal serum t-cfDNA in patients with placental-mediated FGR.




Rafaeli-Yehudai, T., Imterat, M., Douvdevani, A., Tirosh, D., Benshalom-Tirosh, N., Mastrolia, S. A., … Erez, O. (2018). Maternal total cell-free DNA in preeclampsia and fetal growth restriction: Evidence of differences in maternal response to abnormal implantation. PLoS ONE, 13(7).

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