Stillbirth: Genome-wide copy number variation profiling in archived placental umbilical cord samples with pathologic and clinical correlation

L. M. Ernst*, C. M. Rand, R. Bao, J. Andrade, R. L. Linn, L. Minturn, C. Zhang, W. Kang, D. E. Weese-Mayer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Introduction Stillbirth remains a devastating health issue with 26,000 stillbirths occurring annually in the United States. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) umbilical cord samples are available for many stillbirths. Our aim was to validate the use of these samples in identifying genetic variations in stillbirth through microarray analysis. Methods This is a retrospective case-control study from a single institution of stillbirths ≥23 weeks gestational age and control liveborn infants. Fetal genomic DNA was extracted from FFPE umbilical cord samples of stillborn and control placentas, and genotyping was performed using the Illumina HumanOmniExpresss-12v1 Beadchip. Array results were verified with qPCR. Results 31 case-specific CNVs (17 deletions and 14 amplifications) with an average size of 294 kb for amplifications and 74 kb for deletions were identified among 94 FFPE samples (86 cases; 8 controls). In total 38 (44%) of the stillbirth samples had a CNV detected. Validation of a subset of microarray findings with qPCR confirmed deletions on 1p (2 cases), 11q (4 cases) and amplifications on 18 (1 case). Placental underperfusion changes were seen in stillborns with deletions on 1p, a region containing complement regulatory genes which have been shown to play a role in preeclampsia. Discussion This study validated the use of archived FFPE umbilical cord samples for genome-wide copy number profiling in stillbirths, and demonstrates specific CNV deletions and amplifications. Microarray analysis in an expanded cohort of stillbirth FFPE samples has the potential to identify biomarkers involved in stillbirth pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)783-789
Number of pages7
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015


  • Fetal autopsy
  • Formalin-fixed paraffin embedded tissue
  • Placental pathology
  • Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) microarray

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Developmental Biology


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