IMR Press / FBL / Volume 23 / Issue 3 / DOI: 10.2741/4597

Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.


Fetal nucleic acids in maternal plasma: from biology to clinical translation

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1 Translational Research Laboratory, School of Biological Sciences, Dr. Harisingh Gour Central University, Sagar, India
2 Department of Molecular Biology, ICMR-National Institute for Research in Environmental Health, Bhopal, India
3 School of Medical Science & Technology, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India
4 Division of Reproductive Biology, Maternal and Child Health, Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi, India
5 Centre for Advanced Studies in Zoology, School of Life Sciences, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, India
Front. Biosci. (Landmark Ed) 2018, 23(3), 397–431;
Published: 1 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reproductive biomedicine: from basics to translational outcome)

Exposure to environmental contaminants during the critical window of pregnancy results in deregulation of highly coordinated genetic and epigenetic mechanisms involved in prenatal growth. Such disturbances significantly alter the fetal programming, and lead to various developmental disorders immediately, over the lifetime, or transgenerationally. During the process of placental development, fetal nucleic acids enter maternal plasma as a result of necrotic, apoptotic, and inflammatory mechanisms. These nucleic acids reflect normal or abnormal ongoing cellular changes during prenatal fetal development. Here, we critically review the utility of maternally circulating cell free fetal nucleic acids towards developing reliable biomarkers for widespread screening of environmentally-associated fetal abnormalities. We further discuss the most recent developments in the fetal nucleic acid analysis, quantification methodologies, challenges involved in their accurate detection and their potential applications in fetomaternal medicine.

Circulating DNA
Epigenetic modifications
Particulate matter
Environmental Health
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