Aberrant lymphatic development in euploid fetuses with increased nuchal translucency including Noonan syndrome

Yolanda M. de Mooij, Nynke M. S. van den Akker, Mireille N. Bekker, Margot M. Bartelings, John M. G. van Vugt, Adriana C. Gittenberger-de Groot*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Web of Science)


Objective Increased nuchal translucency in the human fetus is associated with aneuploidy, structural malformations and several syndromes such as Noonan syndrome. In 60-70% of the Noonan syndrome cases, a gene mutation can be demonstrated. Previous research showed that aneuploid fetuses with increased nuchal translucency (NT) demonstrate an aberrant lymphatic endothelial differentiation. Method Fetuses with increased NT and normal karyotype (n = 7) were compared with euploid controls having normal NT (n = 5). A Noonan syndrome gene mutation was found in three out of seven fetuses with increased NT. Endothelial differentiation was evaluated by immunohistochemistry using lymphatic markers (PROX-1, Podoplanin, LYVE-I) and blood vessel markers vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A), Neuropilin-1 (NP-1), Sonic hedgehog, von Willebrand factor, and the smooth muscle cell marker, smooth muscle actin. Results Nuchal edema and enlarged jugular lymphatic sacs (JLSs) were observed in fetuses with increased NT, together with abnormal lymphatic endothelial differentiation i.e. the presence of blood vessel characteristics, including high levels of VEGF-A and NP-1 expression. The enlarged JLSs contained erythrocytes and were surrounded by smooth muscle cells. Conclusion This study shows an aberrant lymphatic endothelial differentiation in fetuses with increased NT and a normal karyotype (including Noonan syndrome fetuses), as was previously reported before in aneuploid fetuses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-166
JournalPrenatal Diagnosis
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


  • nuchal translucency
  • lymphatic development
  • Noonan syndrome
  • nuchal edema

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