Cell-free fetal DNA in maternal blood: Kinetics, source and structure

Farideh Z. Bischoff, Dorothy E. Lewis, Joe Leigh Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

139 Scopus citations


The kinetics and structure of cell-free fetal DNA in maternal plasma is currently under investigation. Plasma fetal DNA seems quite stable albeit cleared rapidly following birth, suggesting continuous fetal DNA release into the maternal circulation during pregnancy. However, to understand better the kinetics of circulating DNA, studies to determine the biological (structural) form in which fetal and maternal DNA exist and the mechanisms underlying variation in plasma are warranted to ensure quantitative diagnostic reliability. It is likely that circulating fetal DNA is released from fetal and/or placental cells undergoing apoptosis. Thus, the majority of fetal DNA is proposed to circulate in membrane-bound vesicles (apoptotic bodies). This review summarizes the latest reports in this field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-67
Number of pages9
JournalHuman Reproduction Update
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005


  • Apoptosis
  • Apoptotic bodies
  • Fetal DNA in maternal plasma
  • Non-invasive prenatal diagnosis
  • Quantitative PCR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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