Noninvasive nucleic acid-based approaches to monitor placental health and predict pregnancy-related complications

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2015 Oct;213(4 Suppl):S197-206. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2015.07.010.


During pregnancy, the placenta releases a variety of nucleic acids (including deoxyribonucleic acid, messenger ribonucleic acid, or microribonucleic acids) either as a result of cell turnover or as an active messaging system between the placenta and cells in the maternal body. The profile of released nucleic acids changes with the gestational age and has been associated with maternal and fetal parameters. It also can directly reflect pathological changes in the placenta. Nucleic acids may therefore provide a rich source of novel biomarkers for the prediction of pregnancy complications. However, their utility in the clinical setting depends, first, on overcoming some technical considerations in their quantification, and, second, on developing a better understanding of the factors that influence their function and abundance.

Keywords: cell-free deoxyribonucleic acid; cell-free messenger ribonucleic acid; microribonucleic acid; pregnancy complications; screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • DNA / blood*
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / blood
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / blood*
  • Placenta
  • Placenta Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth / blood
  • RNA, Messenger / blood*


  • Biomarkers
  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Messenger
  • DNA