J Genet Med.  2015 Dec;12(2):61-65. 10.5734/JGM.2015.12.2.61.

Whole genome sequencing based noninvasive prenatal test

  • 1Green Cross Genome, Yongin, Korea. ehcho@greencross.com


Whole genome sequencing (WGS)-based noninvasive prenatal test (NIPT) is the first method applied in the clinical setting out of various NIPT techniques. Several companies, such as Sequenom, BGI, and Illumina offer WGS-based NIPT, each with different technical and bioinformatic approaches. Sequenom, BGI, and Illumina utilize z-, t-, and L-scores, as well as normalized chromosome values, respectively, for trisomy detection. Their outstanding performance has been demonstrated in clinical studies of more than 100,000 pregnancies. The sensitivity and specificity for detection of trisomies 13, 18, and 21 were above 98%, as reported by all three companies. Unlike other techniques, WGS-based NIPT can detect other trisomies as well as clinically significant segmental duplications/deletions within a chromosome, which could expand the scope of NIPT. Incorrect results could be due to low fetal fraction, fetoplacental mosaicism, confined placental mosaicism or maternal copy number variation (CNV). Among those, maternal CNV is a significant contributor of false positive results and therefore genome wide scanning plays an important role in preventing the occurrence of false positives. In this article, the bioinformatic techniques and clinical performance of three major companies are comprehensively reviewed.


Noninvasive prenatal test; Whole genome sequencing; Down syndrome; Trisomy 18; Patau syndrome

MeSH Terms

Down Syndrome
Sensitivity and Specificity
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