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A capture-based method of prenatal cell-free DNA screening for autosomal recessive non-syndromic hearing loss.

Prenatal Diagnosis 2024 March 16
OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to develop and validate a prenatal cell-free DNA (cfDNA) screening method that uses capture-based enrichment to genotype fetal autosomal recessive disorders. This method was applied in pregnancies at high risk of autosomal recessive non-syndromic hearing loss (ARNSHL) to assess its accuracy and effectiveness.

METHODS: This assay measured the allele counts in both white blood cell DNA and cfDNA from the blood samples of pregnant women using a capture-based next-generation sequencing method. It then applied a binomial model to infer the fetal genotypes with the maximum likelihood. Ninety-four pregnant couples that were carriers of variants of ARNSHL in GJB2 or SLC26A4 were enrolled. The fetal genotypes deduced using this screening method were compared with the results of genetic diagnosis using amniocentesis.

RESULTS: Of the 94 couples, 65 carried more than one variant, resulting in 170 single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) loci to be inferred in the fetuses. Of the 170 fetal SNP genotypes, 150 (88.2%) had high confidence calls and 139 (92.7%) of these matched the genotypes obtained by amniocentesis result. Out of the remaining 20 (11.8%) cases with low-confidence calls, only 14 (70.0%) were concordant with genetic diagnosis using amniocentesis. The concordance rate was 100% for sites where the maternal genotype was wild-type homozygous. The discordance was site-biased, with each locus showing a consistent direction of discordance. Genetic diagnosis identified a total of 19 wild-type homozygotes, 46 heterozygotes, 19 compound heterozygotes, and 10 pathogenic homozygotes. This screening method correctly genotyped 81.9% (77/94) of fetuses and demonstrated a sensitivity of 89.7% and a specificity of 89.2% for correctly identifying ARNSHL.

CONCLUSION: This capture-based method of prenatal screening by cfDNA demonstrated strong potential for fetal genotyping of autosomal recessive disorders.

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