Maternal or fetal origin of rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta) amniotic fluid leukocytes can be identified by polymerase chain reaction using the zinc finger Y gene

A. E. Macias, S. W. Wong, D. W. Sadowsky, C. M. Luetjens, M. K. Axthelm, M. G. Gravett, G. J. Haluska, M. J. Novy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Leukocytes can be found in substantial numbers within the intrauterine tissues and amniotic fluid of women, and play a central role in the pathophysiology of infection-related preterm labor by their production of proinflammatory mediators. It remains unclear whether these leukocytes represent a fetal immune response, a maternal response, or a combination of the two. The objective of this study was to develop a test in the rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta) suitable for determining the percentage of male fetal cells present in a population of leukocytes recovered from blood or amniotic fluid. We found inadequate specificity for rhesus monkey cells using commercial human Y-chromosome paint kits (fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH)). Human-specific primers for the repetitive Y chromosome DYZ-1 locus employed in the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) produced an unacceptable percentage of false positives. However, we successfully developed a PCR-based test using rhesus-specific primers for the zinc finger Y (ZFY) locus. Densitometry of PCR products from known ratios of male and female adult peripheral leukocytes generated a linear standard curve which provided quantitative results and required only 400 cells per sample. The rhesus beta globin (RBG) gene served as an internal control. The PCR test correctly discriminated the sex of peripheral leukocytes in 20 adult males, 20 adult females, two male fetuses, and one female fetus. Serial samples of amniotic fluid from four chronically catheterized rhesus monkeys bearing male fetuses were used to confirm the utility of this assay for quantifying fetal cells in amniotic fluid. In conclusion, we have developed a PCR test which is suitable for distinguishing male from female cells in adult and fetal blood and in amniotic fluid, which lends itself to a variety of diagnostic and biologic applications in the rhesus monkey and potentially in other nonhuman primates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-170
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001


  • Amniotic fluid
  • Leukocytes
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • Sex chromosomes
  • ZFY gene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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