Prepregnancy testing for single-gene disorders by polar body analysis

Genet Test. 1999;3(2):185-90. doi: 10.1089/gte.1999.3.185.


Preventive measures for single-gene disorders are currently based on carrier screening in pregnancy and prenatal diagnosis. Although this has been extremely effective for preventing new cases of common inherited conditions, the major limitation is still termination of 25% of wanted pregnancies following detection of affected fetuses. To overcome this important problem, we developed a method for prepregnancy genetic testing that involves DNA analysis of the first and second polar bodies, which are extruded during maturation and fertilization of oocytes. We offered this option to 28 couples at risk for having children with single-gene disorders. Fifty clinical cycles were performed from these patients for the following conditions: 20 for cystic fibrosis, 18 for thalassemia, 6 for sickle cell disease, 2 each for Gaucher disease and LCHAD (long-chain 3-hydroxyacyl-COA dehydrogenase deficiency), and 1 each for hemophilia B and phenylketonuria. Oocytes obtained from these patients using in vitro fertilization procedures (IVF) were tested by a sequential multiplex nested PCR analysis of the first and second polar body to detect the gene involved simultaneously with linked polymorphic markers. A total of 191 of 399 oocytes with predicted genotype were mutation free and preselected for fertilization and transfer. In all but three cycles, one to three unaffected embryos with predicted unaffected genotypes were transferred, resulting in 20 pregnancies, from which 19 healthy children have been born. The follow-up analysis of embryos resulting from oocytes with predicted affected genotype, confirmed the diagnosis in 97% of cases, demonstrating the reliability of prepregnancy diagnosis of single-gene defects by polar body analysis.

MeSH terms

  • 3-Hydroxyacyl CoA Dehydrogenases / deficiency
  • 3-Hydroxyacyl CoA Dehydrogenases / genetics
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / diagnosis
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / genetics
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / prevention & control
  • Base Sequence
  • Cystic Fibrosis / diagnosis
  • Cystic Fibrosis / genetics
  • Cystic Fibrosis / prevention & control
  • DNA Mutational Analysis / methods*
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • Embryo Transfer
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro
  • Gaucher Disease / diagnosis
  • Gaucher Disease / genetics
  • Gaucher Disease / prevention & control
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / diagnosis
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / genetics*
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / prevention & control*
  • Genetic Techniques
  • Genetic Testing
  • Genotype
  • Hemophilia B / diagnosis
  • Hemophilia B / genetics
  • Hemophilia B / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Long-Chain-3-Hydroxyacyl-CoA Dehydrogenase
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Oocytes / metabolism
  • Phenylketonurias / diagnosis
  • Phenylketonurias / genetics
  • Phenylketonurias / prevention & control
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Prenatal Diagnosis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Thalassemia / diagnosis
  • Thalassemia / genetics
  • Thalassemia / prevention & control


  • DNA Primers
  • 3-Hydroxyacyl CoA Dehydrogenases
  • Long-Chain-3-Hydroxyacyl-CoA Dehydrogenase