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Relationship of circulating cell-free DNA levels to cell-free fetal DNA levels, clinical characteristics and laboratory parameters in preeclampsia

Levente Lazar1*, János Rigó1, Bálint Nagy1, Krisztián Balogh2, Veronika Makó3, László Cervenak4, Miklós Mézes5, Zoltán Prohászka34 and Attila Molvarec1

Author Affiliations

1 1st Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary

2 Research Group of Animal Breeding and Hygiene, Faculty of Animal Science, University of Kaposvár, Kaposvár, Hungary

3 3rd Department of Internal Medicine and Szentágothai Knowledge Center, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary

4 Research Group of Inflammation Biology and Immunogenomics, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary

5 Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Szent István University, Gödöllő, Hungary

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BMC Medical Genetics 2009, 10:120  doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-120

Published: 21 November 2009



The aim of our study was to examine whether increased circulating total cell-free DNA levels are related to the clinical characteristics and standard laboratory parameters of preeclamptic patients, to markers of inflammation, endothelial activation or injury, oxidative stress and to cell-free fetal DNA levels.


Circulating total cell-free DNA was measured by real-time quantitative PCR in plasma samples obtained from 67 preeclamptic and 70 normotensive pregnant women. Standard laboratory parameters, C-reactive protein, plasma von Willebrand factor antigen, plasma fibronectin, plasma malondialdehyde and cell-free fetal DNA levels were also determined.

Results and Conclusion

Circulating total cell-free and fetal deoxyribonucleic acid levels were significantly elevated in pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia (median: 11.395 vs. 32.460 and 0.001 vs. 0.086 pg/μl; P < .001). The quantity of plasma total cell-free DNA did not correlate with most of the laboratory parameters, except for serum aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase activities (correlation coefficient: 0.31; P = 0.012 and 0.46; P < .001). There was no correlation with clinical characteristics, including body mass index. The releases of both free fetal and total cell-free deoxyribonucleic acid were found to be affected in preeclampsia. Hepatocellular necrosis seems to be responsible - at least partly - for increased circulating total DNA levels in preeclampsia, as suggested by the significant correlation with liver enzyme activities.