Anne Gitte Rasmussen Loft

A comparison of amniotic fluid alpha-fetoprotein and acetylcholinesterase in the prenatal diagnosis of open neural tube defects and anterior abdominal wall defects

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • A G Loft
  • E Høgdall
  • ,
  • S O Larsen
  • ,
  • B Nørgaard-Pedersen

Amniotic fluid samples received for routine prenatal diagnosis of open neural tube defects were used for a study to compare amniotic fluid acetylcholinesterase (AChE) determination using a monoclonal antibody (4F19) enzyme antigen immunoassay and amniotic fluid alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) measurement as diagnostic tests for open neural tube defects. The study was based on 9964 women with singleton pregnancies and known outcome (including 6 with anencephaly and 18 with open spina bifida) having an amniocentesis at 14-23 weeks of gestation. The AChE immunoassay yielded detection rates for anencephaly of 100 per cent (95 per cent confidence interval (CI) 54.07-100 per cent), for open spina bifida of 100 per cent (95 per cent CI 81.47-100 per cent), for anterior abdominal wall defects of 20 per cent (95 per cent CI 0.51-71.64 per cent), and a false-positive rate of 0.22 per cent (95 per cent CI 0.14-0.34 per cent) excluding anencephaly, open spina bifida, and anterior abdominal wall defects. For similar detection rates the false-positive rate of the AFP test was significantly higher, 0.74 per cent (95 per cent CI 0.58-0.94 per cent). On the basis of these findings, it is recommended that the technically simple AChE immunoassay should be used on all samples; the AFP test should only be used on the 0.5 per cent of the samples with concentrations of AChE activity > or = 8.5 nkat/l for clear samples and blood-stained samples becoming clear after centrifugation, and > or = 25.0 nkat/l for blood-stained samples that are discoloured after centrifugation; an AFP cut-off level of 2.0 MOM is recommended for this policy. Thereby, the detection rates for anencephaly, open spina bifida, and anterior abdominal wall defects would be 100, 100, and 20 per cent, respectively (95 per cent CIs 54.07-100, 81.47-100, and 0.51-71.64 per cent, respectively), and the false-positive rate would be 0.08 per cent (95 per cent CI 0.03-0.16 per cent) (excluding anencephaly, open spina bifida, and anterior abdominal wall defects).

Original languageEnglish
JournalPrenatal Diagnosis
Pages (from-to)93-109
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1993
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • Abdominal Muscles/abnormalities, Acetylcholinesterase/analysis, Adult, Amniocentesis, Amniotic Fluid/chemistry, Anencephaly/diagnosis, False Positive Reactions, Female, Gestational Age, Humans, Immunoelectrophoresis, Immunoenzyme Techniques, Neural Tube Defects/diagnosis, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Outcome, Pregnancy Trimester, Second, Prenatal Diagnosis, Spinal Dysraphism/diagnosis, alpha-Fetoproteins/analysis

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