, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 219-225

Preimplantation Diagnosis of Thalassemias

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Purpose: Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is an important option for couples at risk of having children with β-globin mutations to avoid selective abortions of affected fetuses following prenatal diagnosis.

Methods: We performed PGD for thalassemia in 12 clinical cycles (IVS1-110, and IVS-745 mutations) using biopsy of the first and second polar bodies (PBs) extruded from oocytes during maturation and fertilization, coupled with nested polymerase chain reaction analysis and restriction digestion.

Results: A total of 118 oocytes was obtained, of which 78 had results for both the first and the second PBs. This resulted in the selection and transfer of 30 unaffected embryos (2.5 embryos per cycle). To avoid a possible misdiagnosis due to allele dropout (ADO), we have also introduced simultaneous detection of two highly polymorphic linked markers, a short tandem repeat immediately at the 5′ end of the globin gene and HUMTH01 which is a syntenic short tandem repeat. The application of multiplex polymerase chain reaction of the β-globin gene and linked polymorphic markers enabled detection of ADO in five first PBs, thus avoiding the transfer of potentially affected embryos resulting from their corresponding oocytes.

Conclusions: Confirmation studies of the embryos resulting from the oocytes predicted to contain an affected gene confirmed the diagnosis in 98% of the cases, thus demonstrating the accuracy and reliability of PB PGD of thalassemia mutations. The application of PB analysis in six patients resulted in two ongoing pregnancies with a thalassemia-free fetus already confirmed in both of them by prenatal diagnosis.