Non-invasive prenatal paternity testing using cell-free fetal DNA from maternal plasma: DNA isolation and genetic marker studies

Leg Med (Tokyo). 2018 May;32:98-103. doi: 10.1016/j.legalmed.2018.03.009. Epub 2018 Apr 1.


Invasive prenatal paternity tests can result in miscarriage and congenital malformations; therefore, a non-invasive method of testing is preferable. However, little progress could be made in this field until the introduction of cell-free fetal DNA (cffDNA) in 2009. In this review, two aspects regarding the history and development of non-invasive prenatal paternity testing (NIPAT) are summarized: (1) extraction and enrichment of cffDNA and (2) genetic marker-based studies. Although column-based kits are used widely for NIPAT, some researchers have suggested that an automated method, such as magnetic extraction, generally has a higher cffDNA yield than that of manual column-based extraction; therefore, its popularity might increase in the near future. In addition, size- and methylation-based enrichment methods are expected to perform better than formaldehyde-based methods. On the other hand, single nucleotide polymorphism-based techniques have contributed to NIPAT, whereas the application of short tandem repeat testing has so far been restricted to pregnant women bearing male fetuses only. Additional methods and techniques are expected to be innovated to facilitate the forensic practice of NIPAT.

Keywords: Cell-free fetal DNA; DNA isolation; Forensic genetics; Noninvasive prenatal paternity testing; Short tandem repeat; Single nucleotide polymorphism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • China
  • DNA / genetics*
  • DNA / isolation & purification*
  • Female
  • Forensic Genetics
  • Genetic Markers
  • Humans
  • Microsatellite Repeats
  • Paternity*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics
  • Pregnancy / blood
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / trends*


  • Genetic Markers
  • DNA