A Noninvasive Molecular Clock for Fetal Development Predicts Gestational Age and Preterm Delivery
Thuy T. M. Ngo,
Mira N Moufarrej,
Marie-Louise H Rasmussen,
Norma F. Neff,
Ronald J Wong,
Gary M. Shaw,
David K. Stevenson,
Joseph R Biggio,
Michal A Elovitz,
Stephen R. Quake
Posted 01 Nov 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/212910
Posted 01 Nov 2017
We performed a high time-resolution, longitudinal study of normal pregnancy development by measuring cell-free RNA (cfRNA) in blood from women during each week of pregnancy. Analysis of tissue-specific transcripts in these samples enabled us to follow fetal and placental development with high resolution and sensitivity, and also to detect gene-specific responses of the maternal immune system to pregnancy. We established a "clock" for normal pregnancy development and enabled a direct molecular approach to determine expected delivery dates with comparable accuracy to ultrasound, creating the basis for a portable, inexpensive fetal dating method. We also identified a related gene set that accurately discriminated women at risk for spontaneous preterm delivery up to two months in advance of labor, forming the basis of a potential screening test for risk of preterm delivery.
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