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BACKGROUND: There is much recent interest in the biologic and diagnostic implication of cell-free non-host DNA in the plasma and serum of human subjects. To determine if quantitative abnormalities of circulating non-host DNA may be associated with certain pathologic processes, we used circulating fetal DNA in preeclampsia as a model system. METHODS: We studied 20 preeclamptic women and 20 control subjects of comparable gestational age (means, 32 and 33 weeks, respectively). Male fetal DNA in maternal serum was measured using real-time quantitative PCR for the SRY gene on the Y chromosome. RESULTS: The imprecision (CV) of the assay was 2.7%. The median circulating fetal DNA was increased fivefold in 20 preeclamptic women compared with 20 control pregnant women (381 vs 76 genome-equivalents/mL, P <0.001). CONCLUSIONS: These observations suggest that preeclampsia is associated with disturbances in the liberation and/or clearance mechanisms of circulating DNA. These results also raise the possibility that measurement of circulating DNA may prove useful as a marker for the diagnosis and/or monitoring of preeclampsia.


Journal article


Clin Chem

Publication Date





184 - 188


Case-Control Studies, DNA, Female, Fetus, Humans, Male, Mothers, Polymerase Chain Reaction, Pre-Eclampsia, Pregnancy