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International Journal of Legal Medicine

, 124:13

First Online: 16 January 2009Received: 29 September 2008Accepted: 22 December 2008DOI: 10.1007-s00414-008-0315-6

Cite this article as: Gauvin, J., Zubakov, D., van Rhee-Binkhorst, J. et al. Int J Legal Med 2010 124: 13. doi:10.1007-s00414-008-0315-6


Current methods for pregnancy diagnostics are based on immunodetection of pregnancy-specific proteins and in a forensic context suffer from sensitivity and specificity issues. Here, we applied reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction RT-PCR technology to 11 genes previously reported with placental mRNA circulating in maternal blood. We found two genes, hPL and βhCG, with pregnancy-specific expression in whole blood samples. RT-PCR detection of hPL was positive in all samples tested throughout the pregnancy, whereas βhCG was detectable until half of the second trimester but not at later gestation ages. For hPL, in vitro stability of the transcript was demonstrated until 2 months of age, and the hPL-specific RT-PCR assay applied was highly sensitive with reliable detection from down to 0.25 cm dried bloodstain. We therefore suggest hPL-specific RT-PCR as a new molecular tool for forensic pregnancy diagnostics from dried blood stains. Moreover, our results indicate that the time-wise reverse expression of hPL and βhCG during pregnancy may allow an RT-PCR-based estimation of the gestational age from blood stains, adding to the value of forensic pregnancy diagnosis for crime scene investigations.

KeywordsmRNA markers Pregnancy Maternal blood Forensic hPL βhCG Jeanot Gauvin, Dmitry Zubakov contributed equally to this work.

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1007-s00414-008-0315-6 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Autor: Jeanot Gauvin - Dmitry Zubakov - Joke van Rhee-Binkhorst - Ate Kloosterman - Eric Steegers - Manfred Kayser


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