Author(s): Tjoa ML, CindrovaDavies T, SpasicBoskovic O, Bianchi DW, Burton GJ
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Abstract Considerable quantities of cell-free fetal DNA circulate in the maternal blood during human pregnancy, but the origin of the DNA remains uncertain. Circumstantial evidence suggests the placenta is the principal source, so we tested the hypothesis that release occurs from the syncytiotrophoblast after the induction of apoptotic changes. Villous explants from normal placentas delivered by elective caesarean section were cultured under normoxic conditions (10\% oxygen) for up to 20 hours or exposed to hypoxia (0.5\% oxygen) for 1 hour followed by reoxygenation. The concentration of beta-globin cell-free DNA in the supernatant, measured using real-time polymerase chain reaction methodology, was significantly increased at 20 hours after hypoxia-reoxygenation. Release was associated with increased apoptosis, confirmed by increased activation of caspase-3 on Western blotting, and immunolocalized to the syncytiotrophoblast; necrosis was also evidenced by release of lactate dehydrogenase. Both release of cell-free DNA and apoptosis could be significantly reduced by the addition of antioxidant vitamins C and E to the culture medium. This study provides the first evidence of a mechanistic and quantitative link between placental apoptosis/necrosis and release of cell-free DNA, hence confirming that maternal serum/plasma concen-trations of cell-free DNA may act as a biomarker of trophoblast well-being during pregnancy.
This article was published in Am J Pathol
and referenced in Biochemistry & Analytical Biochemistry