Next-generation sequencing is emerging as a viable alternative to chromosome microarray analysis for the diagnosis of chromosome disease syndromes. One next-generation sequencing methodology, copy number variation sequencing, has been shown to deliver high reliability, accuracy, and reproducibility for detection of fetal copy number variations in prenatal samples. However, its clinical utility as a first-tier diagnostic method has yet to be demonstrated in a large cohort of pregnant women referred for fetal chromosome testing.OBJECTIVE:
We sought to evaluate copy number variation sequencing as a first-tier diagnostic method for detection of fetal chromosome anomalies in a general population of pregnant women with high-risk prenatal indications.STUDY DESIGN:
This was a prospective analysis of 3429 pregnant women referred for amniocentesis and fetal chromosome testing for different risk indications, including advanced maternal age, high-risk maternal serum screening, and positivity for an ultrasound soft marker. Amniocentesis was performed by standard procedures. Amniocyte DNA was analyzed by copy number variation sequencing with a chromosome resolution of 0.1 Mb. Fetal chromosome anomalies including whole chromosome aneuploidy and segmental imbalances were independently confirmed by gold standard cytogenetic and molecular methods and their pathogenicity determined following guidelines of the American College of Medical Genetics for sequence variants.RESULTS:
Clear interpretable copy number variation sequencing results were obtained for all 3429 amniocentesis samples. Copy number variation sequencing identified 3293 samples (96%) with a normal molecular karyotype and 136 samples (4%) with an altered molecular karyotype. A total of 146 fetal chromosome anomalies were detected, comprising 46 whole chromosome aneuploidies (pathogenic), 29 submicroscopic microdeletions/microduplications with known or suspected associations with chromosome disease syndromes (pathogenic), 22 other microdeletions/microduplications (likely pathogenic), and 49 variants of uncertain significance. Overall, the cumulative frequency of pathogenic/likely pathogenic and variants of uncertain significance chromosome anomalies in the patient cohort was 2.83% and 1.43%, respectively. In the 3 high-risk advanced maternal age, high-risk maternal serum screening, and ultrasound soft marker groups, the most common whole chromosome aneuploidy detected was trisomy 21, followed by sex chromosome aneuploidies, trisomy 18, and trisomy 13. Across all clinical indications, there was a similar incidence of submicroscopic copy number variations, with approximately equal proportions of pathogenic/likely pathogenic and variants of uncertain significance copy number variations. If karyotyping had been used as an alternate cytogenetics detection method, copy number variation sequencing would have returned a 1% higher yield of pathogenic or likely pathogenic copy number variations.CONCLUSION:
In a large prospective clinical study, copy number variation sequencing delivered high reliability and accuracy for identifying clinically significant fetal anomalies in prenatal samples. Based on key performance criteria, copy number variation sequencing appears to be a well-suited methodology for first-tier diagnosis of pregnant women in the general population at risk of having a suspected fetal chromosome abnormality.