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Uterine and placenta characteristics during early vascular development in the pig from day 22 to 42 of gestation

Elane C. Wright, Jeremy R. Miles, Clay A. Lents, Lea A. Rempel
Animal reproduction science 2016 v.164 pp. 14-22
endometrium, estrus detection, fetal death, fetal development, gilts, litter size, placenta, pregnancy
Insufficient placenta development is one of the primary causes of fetal death and reduced fetal growth after 35 days of gestation. Between day 22 and 42 the placenta consists of a central highly vascular placenta (HVP), adjacent to the fetus, a less vascular placenta (LVP), on either side of the fetus, and necrotic tips (NT). The objective of this study was to comprehensively evaluate uterine–placenta characteristics during early gestation in the gilt and determine time points and physiological changes. Gilts (n=25) were artificially inseminated at first detection of estrus (day 0) and 24h later, and harvested at 22, 27, 32, 37 or 42 days of gestation. Litter size, 12.1±3.4, was similar for all days of gestation. Fetal and placenta weight increased with day of gestation. The greatest increase in placenta weight occurred between 37 and 42 days of gestation. The LVP zones had no measurable fold formation until day 27. Necrotic tips became apparent after 27 days of gestation. Unoccupied areas of the uterus developed folds with changes in endometrial cell size and morphology from day 32 to 42 of gestation. Limited changes occurred in either fetal growth or placenta weight from day 27 through 32 of gestation; however, significant morphological changes occur at the maternal–fetal interface, demonstrating the dynamic architecture of the developing porcine placenta during early gestation. This work establishes fundamental time points in placenta development corresponding to fetal growth and microfold formation that may influence fetal growth and impact fetal survival.