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Prenatal diagnosis from maternal blood: simultaneous immunophenotyping and FISH of fetal nucleated erythrocytes isolated by negative magnetic cell sorting.
  1. Y L Zheng,
  2. N P Carter,
  3. C M Price,
  4. S M Colman,
  5. P J Milton,
  6. G A Hackett,
  7. M F Greaves,
  8. M A Ferguson-Smith
  1. Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, UK.


    Fetal nucleated cells in the maternal circulation constitute a potential source of cells for the non-invasive prenatal diagnosis of fetal genetic abnormalities. We have investigated the use of the Magnetic Activated Cell Sorter (MACS) for enriching fetal nucleated erythrocytes. Mouse monoclonal antibodies specific for CD45 and CD32 were used to deplete leucocytes from maternal blood using MACS sorting, thus enriching for fetal nucleated erythrocytes which do not express either of these antigens. However, significant maternal contamination was present even after MACS enrichment preventing the accurate analysis of fetal cells by interphase fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH). To overcome this problem, we used simultaneous immunophenotyping of cells with the mouse antifetal haemoglobin antibody, UCH gamma, combined with FISH analysis using chromosome X and Y specific DNA probes. This approach enables selective FISH analysis of fetal cells within an excess of maternal cells. Furthermore, we have confirmed the potential of the method for clinical practice by a pilot prospective study of fetal sex in women referred for amniocentesis between 13 and 17 weeks of gestation.

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