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Next Generation Sequencing-Based Fetal ABO Blood Group Prediction by Analysis of Cell-Free DNA from Maternal Plasma

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Introduction: ABO blood group incompatibility between a pregnant woman and her fetus as a cause of morbidity or mortality of the fetus or newborn remains an important, albeit rare, risk. When a pregnant woman has a high level of anti-A or anti-B IgG antibodies, the child may be at risk for hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn (HDFN). Performing a direct prenatal determination of the fetal ABO blood group can provide valuable clinical information.

Objective: Here, we report a next generation sequencing (NGS)-based assay for predicting the prenatal ABO blood group.

Materials and Methods: A total of 26 plasma samples from 26 pregnant women were tested from gestational weeks 12 to 35. Of these samples, 20 were clinical samples and 6 were test samples. Extracted cell-free DNA was PCR-amplified using 2 primer sets followed by NGS. NGS data were analyzed by 2 different methods, FASTQ analysis and a grep search, to ensure robust results. The fetal ABO prediction was compared with the known serological infant ABO type, which was available for 19 samples.

Results: There was concordance for 19 of 19 predictable samples where the phenotype information was available and when the analysis was done by the 2 methods. For immunized pregnant women (n = 20), the risk of HDFN was predicted for 12 fetuses, and no risk was predicted for 7 fetuses; one result of the clinical samples was indeterminable. Cloning and sequencing revealed a novel variant harboring the same single nucleotide variations as ABO*O.01.24 with an additional c.220C>T substitution. An additional indeterminable result was found among the 6 test samples and was caused by maternal heterozygosity. The 2 indeterminable samples demonstrated limitations to the assay due to hybrid ABO genes or maternal heterozygosity.

Conclusions: We pioneered an NGS-based fetal ABO prediction assay based on a cell-free DNA analysis from maternal plasma and demonstrated its application in a small number of samples. Based on the calculations of variant frequencies and ABO*O.01/ABO*O.02 heterozygote frequency, we estimate that we can assign a reliable fetal ABO type in approximately 95% of the forthcoming clinical samples of type O pregnant women. Despite the vast genetic variations underlying the ABO blood groups, many variants are rare, and prenatal ABO prediction is possible and adds valuable early information for the prevention of ABO HDFN.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTransfusion Medicine and Hemotherapy (Print Edition)
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)45-53
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020

    Research areas

  • Cell-free DNA, Fetal ABO blood group, Genotyping, Hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn, Next generation sequencing, Noninvasive prediction, Prenatal diagnosis

ID: 60979972