Preimplantation genetic diagnosis in 10 couples at risk for transmitting beta-thalassaemia major: clinical experience including the initiation of six singleton pregnancies

Prenat Diagn. 1999 Dec;19(13):1217-22. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0223(199912)19:13<1217::aid-pd723>;2-2.


Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) offers couples at risk for transmitting an inherited disorder the possibility to avoid the need to terminate affected pregnancies, since it allows the selection of unaffected IVF embryos for transfer. PGD for monogenic diseases is most commonly accomplished by blastomere biopsy from cleavage stage embryos, followed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based DNA analysis. However, PCR-based DNA analysis of single cells is subject to several problems including sample contamination, total PCR failure, or failure of one allele to amplify--a phenomenon known as allelic drop-out (ADO). Furthermore, the molecular heterogeneity of many monogenic diseases requires a diagnostic strategy capable of detecting a spectrum of mutations and compound genotypes. With the above considerations we developed an accurate and reliable strategy for analysis of beta-globin gene mutations, applicable for PGD for the wide spectrum of beta-thalassaemia major genotypes in the Greek population. The strategy involves nested PCR followed by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) analysis. DGGE is an advantageous method for mutation detection since it facilitates simultaneous analysis of more than one mutation in a single PCR fragment, it identifies the presence of normal alleles and in addition can monitor the occurrence of ADO. This report describes the application of the DGGE-based diagnostic strategy in 11 clinical IVF/PGD cycles, in 10 couples at risk for transmitting beta-thalassaemia major. The transfer of at least one embryo diagnosed as unaffected for beta-thalassaemia major in nine couples has resulted in the initiation of six pregnancies. Four pregnancies have so far been confirmed as unaffected for beta-thalassaemia major by first or second-trimester prenatal diagnosis, two of which have resulted in the birth of two healthy babies. Three singleton pregnancies are still on-going and one ectopic pregnancy was terminated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Blastomeres
  • Electrophoresis / methods
  • Embryo Transfer
  • Embryonic Development*
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro
  • Globins / genetics
  • Humans
  • Infertility / therapy
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Pregnancy
  • Preimplantation Diagnosis*
  • beta-Thalassemia / diagnosis*
  • beta-Thalassemia / genetics*


  • Globins