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Structural Differences in the Umbilical Vein Wall after Full-Term and Pre-term Delivery

Bagyánszki, M., Novák, Z., Bódi, N., Orvos, H., Pál, A., Fekete, É.
Anatomia, histologia, embryologia 2009 v.38 no.5 pp. 387-391
direct contact, electron microscopy, endothelial cells, endothelium, genes, immunohistochemistry, innervation, myocytes, neonates, shrinkage, smooth muscle, ultrastructure, umbilical cord, umbilical veins
With the exception of its most proximal segment, the human umbilical cord lacks innervation. It might be expected, therefore, that a paracrine effect through the direct contact between the smooth muscle cells and the endothelium may be particularly important in the control of the fetoplacental circulation. In this study, electron microscopy and immunohistochemistry were applied to examine umbilical veins immediately after full-term and pre-term delivery. The smooth muscle cells in the upper layer of the tunica media exhibited long, foot-like processes with c-kit immunoreactivity. In the umbilical vein of full-term neonates more than 50% of these cell processes display a normal ultrastructure and they were closely associated with the lamina elastica interna. Whereas in pre-term infants more than 60% of these cell processes exhibit signs of severe shrinkage and detachedness from the lamina elastica interna. At the same time, the high level of immunoreactivity of the endothelial cells as regards the proapoptotic gene product Bax in pre-term infants is indicative of an enhanced apoptotic process in these cells.