Researchers were able to predict the sex of unborn foals with a good degree of accuracy as little as eight weeks after conception. They did so through testing the blood plasma of the mare.
The Iranian research team, from Shahrekord University, set out to develop a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for detecting circulating cell-free fetal DNA (ccffDNA) in plasma from pregnant Arabian mares, and then to predict fetal sex through identifying the SRY gene within it.
The SRY gene is responsible for the initiation of male sex determination.
Peripheral blood samples from pregnant mares used in the study were collected at a single time point, between 8 and 20 weeks of gestation.
The researchers extracted ccffDNA from 3ml of maternal plasma. A real-time PCR test was performed to detect the SRY gene as well as for the GAPDH gene as the internal control.
Upon the first round of real time PCR testing, results were inconclusive for the SRY gene, Ali Kadivar and his colleagues reported in their study published online ahead of print in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science.
However, on the second round, conclusive results were obtained.
They accurately predicted the sex of the unborn foals in 22 of 25 pregnancies, for an 88% accuracy rate.
“To conclude, SRY gene can permit detection of equine fetal sex with a good accuracy by analyzing cffDNA in maternal plasma just after 8 weeks of gestation,” they reported.
Kadivar was joined in the research by Rohollah Dehghani Tafti, Heidar Heidari Khoei, Mahboobeh Heidari Nasirabadi, Naser Shams Esfandabadi and Narjes Cheraghi.
Developing a nested real-time PCR assay for determining equine fetal sex prenatally
Ali Kadivar, Rohollah Dehghani Tafti, Heidar Heidari Khoei, Mahboobeh Heidari Nasirabadi, Naser Shams Esfandabadi, Narjes Cheraghi
The abstract can be read here.