Positive cell-free fetal DNA testing for trisomy 13 reveals confined placental mosaicism

April L. Hall, Holli M. Drendel, Jennifer L. Verbrugge, Angela M. Reese, Katherine L. Schumacher, Christopher B. Griffith, David D. Weaver, Mary P. Abernathy, Christian G. Litton, Gail H. Vance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Purpose: We report on a case in which cell-free fetal DNA was positive for trisomy 13 most likely due to confined placental mosaicism. Cell-free fetal DNA testing analyzes DNA derived from placental trophoblast cells and can lead to incorrect results that are not representative of the fetus. Methods: We sought to confirm commercial cell-free fetal DNA testing results by chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis. These results were followed up by postnatal chromosome analysis of cord blood and placental tissue. Results: First-trimester cell-free fetal DNA test results were positive for trisomy 13. Cytogenetic analysis of chorionic villus sampling yielded a mosaic karyotype of 47,XY,+13[10]/46,XY[12]. G-banded analysis of amniotic fluid was normal, 46,XY. Postnatal cytogenetic analysis of cord blood was normal. Karyotyping of tissues from four quadrants of the placenta demonstrated mosaicism for trisomy 13 in two of the quadrants and a normal karyotype in the other two. Conclusion: Our case illustrates several important aspects of this new testing methodology: that cell-free fetal DNA may not be representative of the fetal karyotype; that follow-up with diagnostic testing of chorionic villus sampling and/or amniotic fluid for abnormal test results should be performed; and that pretest counseling regarding the full benefits, limitations, and possible testing outcomes of cell-free fetal DNA screening is important.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)729-732
Number of pages4
JournalGenetics in Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2013


  • cell-free fetal DNA
  • chromosomes
  • confined placental mosaicism
  • noninvasive prenatal testing
  • trisomy 13

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)

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