Comparative genomic hybridization and prenatal diagnosis

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Purpose of reviewMicroarray-based comparative genomic hybridization (array-CGH) which detects aneuploidies and submicroscopic deletions and duplications in one assay is now offered for genetic diagnosis in children and adults. Its application to prenatal diagnosis is still limited, but very promising. We predict that array-CGH on fetal DNA obtained through amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling and in the future possibly through noninvasive collection from the maternal cervix or blood, will transform the practice of prenatal diagnosis.Recent findingsThe power of array-CGH for genetic diagnosis and gene discovery is supported by recent studies. Most arrays for clinical use carry large DNA fragments, but alternative designs containing oligonucleotides will move into the clinic. Some oligonucleotide arrays can simultaneously analyze DNA copy number and single nucleotide polymorphisms, thereby adding potential assessment of uniparental disomy and paternity. Recent array-CGH studies have revealed extensive interindividual copy number variation of genomic segments, unanticipated complexity of apparently balanced translocations, and new phenotypes associated with DNA deletions and duplications. These observations affect counseling for prenatal diagnosis by array-CGH.SummaryWe believe that array-CGH will be embraced as a tool for prenatal diagnosis of chromosomal defects, but its introduction into clinical practice should proceed with caution by experienced laboratories.

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