Laboratory technology for population-based screening for severe combined immunodeficiency in neonates: the winner is T-cell receptor excision circles

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2012 Mar;129(3):607-16. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2012.01.032. Epub 2012 Jan 29.


The most profound primary immunodeficiency disease, severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), is fatal in infancy unless affected infants are provided with an adaptive immune system through allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation, enzyme replacement, or gene therapy. However, most infants with SCID lack a family history or any clinical clues before the onset of infections, making this serious but treatable disease a candidate for population-based newborn screening. Of several approaches considered for SCID screening, testing for T-cell receptor excision circles (TRECs), a DNA biomarker of normal T-cell development, has proved successful. TREC numbers can be measured in DNA isolated from the dried bloodspots already routinely collected for newborn screening. Infants with low or absent TRECs can thus be identified and referred for confirmatory testing and prompt intervention. TREC testing of newborns is now being performed in several states, indicating that this addition to the newborn screening panel can be successfully integrated into state public health programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • DNA / analysis*
  • Gene Rearrangement, T-Lymphocyte / genetics
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Neonatal Screening*
  • Public Health
  • Severe Combined Immunodeficiency / diagnosis*
  • Severe Combined Immunodeficiency / genetics*
  • Severe Combined Immunodeficiency / immunology


  • Biomarkers
  • DNA