Prenatal diagnosis of neural-tube defects with a monoclonal antibody specific for acetylcholinesterase

Lancet. 1985 Jan 5;1(8419):5-8. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(85)90962-6.


An immunoassay for acetylcholinesterase (AChE), based on a monoclonal antibody (AE-2), gave the following results when applied to a panel of amniotic fluids: (a) among 651 samples with normal outcome and normal alphafetoprotein (AFP) values there were 2 (0.31%) false positives; (b) of 9 samples with normal outcome and raised AFP values 1 had a raised AChE titre; (c) all 48 samples from anencephaly cases had raised AChE values; (d) among 49 samples from open spina bifida cases (2 of which had normal AFP values), 48 had raised AChE titres. It is suggested that a monoclonal-antibody-based immunoassay may displace polyacrylamide gel electrophoretic analysis of AChE as a complementary test to AFP in prenatal diagnosis of neural-tube defects, since it is a quantitative test largely independent of operator skill and experience.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholinesterase / analysis*
  • Amniotic Fluid / enzymology*
  • Anencephaly / diagnosis
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Clinical Enzyme Tests / methods*
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay / methods
  • Meningomyelocele / diagnosis
  • Neural Tube Defects / diagnosis*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / methods*
  • alpha-Fetoproteins / analysis


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • alpha-Fetoproteins
  • Acetylcholinesterase