Pushing the limits of detection: investigation of cell-free DNA for aneuploidy screening in embryos

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Authors:

Jacqueline R. Ho, M.D., Nabil Arrach, Ph.D., Katherine Rhodes-Long, M.S., Ali Ahmady, Ph.D., Sue Ingles, Ph.D., Karine Chung, M.D., M.S.C.E., Kristin A. Bendikson, M.D., Richard J. Paulson, M.D., M.S., Lynda K. McGinnis, Ph.D.

Abstract:

Objective

To determine the accuracy of cell-free DNA (cfDNA) in spent embryo medium (SEM) for ploidy and sex detection at the cleavage and blastocyst stages. To determine if assisted hatching (AH) and morphologic grade influence cfDNA concentration and accuracy.

Design

Prospective cohort.

Setting

Academic fertility center.

Patient(s)

Nine patients undergoing IVF; 41 donated two-pronuclei embryos and 20 embryos from patients undergoing preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidy (PGT-A).

Interventions(s)

In a donated embryo arm, SEM was collected on days 3 and 5, with one-half of the embryos undergoing AH before and one-half after. In a clinical arm, SEM was collected on day 5 before trophectoderm (TE) biopsy. Samples underwent PGT-A with the use of next-generation sequencing. cfDNA results were compared with corresponding whole embryos and TE biopsies.

Main Outcome Measure(s)

Concordance rates, sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV), and negative predictive value (NPV) for ploidy and sex detection with the use of cfDNA.

Result(s)

Of 141 samples, cfDNA was amplified in 39% and 80.4% of days 3 and 5 SEM, respectively. Concordances for ploidy and sex, respectively, were 56.3% and 81.3% between day 3 cfDNA and whole embryos, and 65% and 70% between day 5 cfDNA and TE biopsies. Day 5 cfDNA sensitivity and specificity for aneuploidy were 0.8 and 0.61, respectively. PPV and NPV were 0.47 and 0.88, respectively. Timing of AH and morphology did not influence cfDNA concentration or accuracy.

Conclusion(s)

cfDNA is detectable on days 3 and 5, but more accurate on day 5. Although our data suggest moderate concordance rates, PGT-A with the use of cfDNA must be further optimized before clinical implementation.


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Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders. The journal publishes juried original scientific articles in clinical and laboratory research relevant to reproductive endocrinology, urology, andrology, physiology, immunology, genetics, contraception, and menopause. Fertility and Sterility® encourages and supports meaningful basic and clinical research, and facilitates and promotes excellence in professional education, in the field of reproductive medicine.

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