Non-invasive prenatal testing for fetal trisomy 21 (T21) by massively parallel shotgun sequencing (MPSS) is available for clinical use but its efficacy is limited by several factors, e.g. the proportion of cell-free fetal DNA in maternal plasma and sequencing depth. Existing algorithms discard DNA reads from the chromosomes for which testing is not being performed (i.e. those other than chromosome 21) and are thus more susceptible to diluted fetal DNA and limited sequencing depth. We aimed to describe and evaluate a novel algorithm for aneuploidy detection (genome-wide normalized score (GWNS)), which normalizes read counts by the proportions of DNA fragments from chromosome 21 in normal controls.Methods
We assessed the GWNS approach by comparison with two existing algorithms, i.e. Z-score and normalized chromosome value (NCV), using theoretical approximations and computer simulations in a set of 86 cases (64 euploid and 22 T21 cases). We then validated GWNS by studying an expanded set of clinical samples (n = 208). Finally, dilution experiments were undertaken to compare performance of the three algorithms (Z-score, NCV, GWNS) when fetal DNA concentration was low.Results
At fixed levels of significance and power, GWNS required a smaller fetal DNA proportion and fewer total MPSS reads compared to Z-score or NCV. In dilution experiments, GWNS also outperformed the other two methods by reaching the correct diagnosis with the lowest range of fetal DNA concentrations (GWNS, 3.83–4.75%; Z-score, 4.75–5.22%; NCV, 6.47–8.58%).Conclusion
Our results demonstrate that GWNS is comparable to Z-score and NCV methods regarding the performance of detecting fetal T21. Dilution experiments suggest that GWNS may perform better than the other methods when fetal fraction is low. Copyright © 2014 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.