Microparticles (MPs) that circulate in blood may be a source of DNA for molecular analyses, including prenatal genetic diagnoses. Because MPs are heterogeneous in nature, however, further characterization is important before use in clinical settings. One key question is whether DNA is either bound to aggregates of blood proteins and lipid micelles or intrinsically associated with MPs from dying cells. To test the latter hypothesis, we asked whether MPs derived in vitro from dying cells were similar to those in maternal plasma. JEG-3 cells model extravillous trophoblasts, which predominate during the first trimester of pregnancy when prenatal diagnosis is most relevant. MPs were derived from apoptosis and increased over 48 hours. Compared with necrotic MPs, DNA in apoptotic MPs was more fragmented and resistant to plasma DNases. Membrane-specific dyes indicated that apoptotic MPs had more membranous material, which protects nucleic acids, including RNA. Flow cytometry showed that MPs derived from dying cells displayed light scatter and DNA staining similar to MPs found in maternal plasma. Quantification of maternal MPs using characteristics defined by MPs generated in vitro revealed a significant increase of DNA+ MPs in the plasma of women with preeclampsia compared with plasma from women with normal pregnancies. Apoptotic MPs are therefore a likely source of stable DNA that could be enriched for both early genetic diagnosis and monitoring of pathological pregnancies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine