Prenatal diagnosis of cystic fibrosis by trehalase enzyme assay in amniotic fluid

M. Szabó, F. Teichmann, G. T. Szeifert, M. Tóth, Z. Tóth, O. Török, Z. Papp

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Amniocentesis and amniotic fluid trehalase enzyme assay were offered to 14 pregnant women at a 1 in 4 risk for a child with cystic fibrosis. Twelve of these pregnancies were screened at the 18th week of gestation; ten proceeded to term, seven following the finding of a normal trehalase activity and three despite the low enzyme level in amniotic fluid. In all ten cases prenatal diagnosis proved to be correct. In two cases with low enzyme activity parents opted for termination at the 19th week, and with PAS‐Alcian Blue staining some slight histochemical lesions characteristic of cystic fibrosis were seen in the exocrine glands, including the pancreas and intestinal mucosa, of both fetuses. The total protein content in the meconium of these fetuses was significantly higher than in the controls. Results suggest that trehalase assay in the amniotic fluid is a potential prenatal test for cystic fibrosis and it appears that in fetuses with cystic fibrosis some histochemical and biochemical abnormalities can be observed as early as the 19th week of gestation. The role of ultrasound examination as an additional procedure for the prenatal diagnosis of cystic fibrosis is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-22
Number of pages7
JournalClinical genetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1985


  • Amniotic fluid
  • cystic fibrosis
  • disaccharidase
  • pathology of the cystic fibrosis fetus
  • prenatal diagnosis
  • trehalase
  • ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

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