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Maternal serum hexosaminidase A in pregnancy: effects of gestational age and fetal genotype

Y Ben-Yoseph, B A Pack, P M Thomas, H L Nadler, M M Kaback
American Journal of Medical Genetics 1988, 29 (4): 891-9
The diagnostic usefulness of sulfated fluorogenic substrates in carrier detection of Tay-Sachs disease in serum during pregnancy was assessed by testing coded samples. Gradual increase in serum hexosaminidase activities toward these substrates was observed throughout pregnancy in both carrier and non-carriers of the Tay-Sachs gene, but absolute discrimination between the 2 genotypes could not be achieved even when values were compared within the same gestational age. Examination of isolated isozyme fractions with the sulfated substrates showed that the increased activities during pregnancy were due to a genuine increase in hexosaminidase A and not associated with the elevation of hexosaminidase I (or P), which was evident only with unsulfated substrates. The extent of the increase was influenced by the genotype of the fetus as indicated by higher values in pregnant carriers who carried non-carrier fetuses. We conclude that determination of serum hexosaminidase A during pregnancy by sulfated fluorogenic substrates may have a prenatal diagnostic value when used in obligate heterozygotes for Tay-Sachs disease, but is unreliable for screening purposes.

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