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Analysis of Human Blood Plasma Cell-Free DNA Fragment Size Distribution Using EvaGreen Chemistry Based Droplet Digital PCR Assays

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Analysis of Human Blood Plasma Cell-Free DNA Fragment Size Distribution Using EvaGreen Chemistry Based Droplet Digital PCR Assays

M Rohan Fernando et al. Clin Chim Acta.

Abstract

Background: Plasma cell-free DNA (cfDNA) fragment size distribution provides important information required for diagnostic assay development. We have developed and optimized droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) assays that quantify short and long DNA fragments. These assays were used to analyze plasma cfDNA fragment size distribution in human blood.

Methods: Assays were designed to amplify 76,135, 490 and 905 base pair fragments of human β-actin gene. These assays were used for fragment size analysis of plasma cell-free, exosome and apoptotic body DNA obtained from normal and pregnant donors.

Results: The relative percentages for 76, 135, 490 and 905 bp fragments from non-pregnant plasma and exosome DNA were 100%, 39%, 18%, 5.6% and 100%, 40%, 18%,3.3%, respectively. The relative percentages for pregnant plasma and exosome DNA were 100%, 34%, 14%, 23%, and 100%, 30%, 12%, 18%, respectively. The relative percentages for non-pregnant plasma pellet (obtained after 2nd centrifugation step) were 100%, 100%, 87% and 83%, respectively.

Conclusion: Non-pregnant Plasma cell-free and exosome DNA share a unique fragment distribution pattern which is different from pregnant donor plasma and exosome DNA fragment distribution indicating the effect of physiological status on cfDNA fragment size distribution. Fragment distribution pattern for plasma pellet that includes apoptotic bodies and nuclear DNA was greatly different from plasma cell-free and exosome DNA.

Keywords: Cell-free DNA; Digital PCR; EvaGreen chemistry; Exosome DNA; Fragment size distribution.

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