Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Cell-free DNA screening for prenatal detection of 22q11.2 deletion syndrome.pdf (734.3 kB)

Cell-free DNA screening for prenatal detection of 22q11.2 deletion syndrome

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posted on 2022-07-05, 15:46 authored by Pe'er Dar, Bo Jacobsson, Rebecca Clifton, Melissa Egbert, Fergal MaloneFergal Malone, Ronald J Wapner, Ashley S Roman, Asma Khalil, Revital Faro, Rajeevi Madankumar, Lance Edwards, Noel Strong, Sina Haeri, Robert Silver, Nidhi Vohra, Jon Hyett, Zachary Demko, Kimberly Martin, Matthew Rabinowitz, Karen FloodKaren Flood, Ylva Carlsson, Georgios Doulaveris, Sean Daly, Maria Hallingström, Cora MacPherson, Charlly Kao, Hakon Hakonarson, Mary E Norton

Background: Historically, prenatal screening has focused primarily on the detection of fetal aneuploidies. Cell-free DNA now enables noninvasive screening for subchromosomal copy number variants, including 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (or DiGeorge syndrome), which is the most common microdeletion and a leading cause of congenital heart defects and neurodevelopmental delay. Although smaller studies have demonstrated the feasibility of screening for 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, large cohort studies with confirmatory postnatal testing to assess test performance have not been reported.

Objective: This study aimed to assess the performance of single-nucleotide polymorphism-based, prenatal cell-free DNA screening for detection of 22q11.2 deletion syndrome.

Study design: Patients who underwent single-nucleotide polymorphism-based prenatal cell-free DNA screening for 22q11.2 deletion syndrome were prospectively enrolled at 21 centers in 6 countries. Prenatal or newborn DNA samples were requested in all cases for genetic confirmation using chromosomal microarrays. The primary outcome was sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of cell-free DNA screening for the detection of all deletions, including the classical deletion and nested deletions that are ≥500 kb, in the 22q11.2 low-copy repeat A-D region. Secondary outcomes included the prevalence of 22q11.2 deletion syndrome and performance of an updated cell-free DNA algorithm that was evaluated with blinding to the pregnancy outcome.

Results: Of the 20,887 women enrolled, a genetic outcome was available for 18,289 (87.6%). A total of 12 22q11.2 deletion syndrome cases were confirmed in the cohort, including 5 (41.7%) nested deletions, yielding a prevalence of 1 in 1524. In the total cohort, cell-free DNA screening identified 17,976 (98.3%) cases as low risk for 22q11.2 deletion syndrome and 38 (0.2%) cases as high risk; 275 (1.5%) cases were nonreportable. Overall, 9 of 12 cases of 22q11.2 were detected, yielding a sensitivity of 75.0% (95% confidence interval, 42.8-94.5); specificity of 99.84% (95% confidence interval, 99.77-99.89); positive predictive value of 23.7% (95% confidence interval, 11.44-40.24), and negative predictive value of 99.98% (95% confidence interval, 99.95-100). None of the cases with a nonreportable result was diagnosed with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. The updated algorithm detected 10 of 12 cases (83.3%; 95% confidence interval, 51.6-97.9) with a lower false positive rate (0.05% vs 0.16%; P<.001) and a positive predictive value of 52.6% (10/19; 95% confidence interval, 28.9-75.6).

Conclusion: Noninvasive cell-free DNA prenatal screening for 22q11.2 deletion syndrome can detect most affected cases, including smaller nested deletions, with a low false positive rate.


Natera, Inc, San Carlos, CA.



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Published Citation

Dar P. et al. Cell-free DNA screening for prenatal detection of 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2022;227(1):79.e1-79.e11.

Publication Date

13 January 2022

PubMed ID



  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Research Area

  • Gynaecology, Obstetrics and Perinatal Health


Elsevier BV


  • Published Version (Version of Record)