Lewis, R.M., Doherty, C.B., James, L.A., Burton, G.J. and Hales, C.N.
Effects of maternal iron restriction on placental vascularization in the rat
Placenta, 22, (6), . (doi:10.1053/plac.2001.0679).
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To investigate the effects of maternal iron deficiency and anaemia on the placenta the composition and vascularization of the placental labyrinth was investigated in iron-restricted rats. Rats in the experimental groups were placed on iron-restricted diets either 1 or 2 weeks before mating and continued on these diets throughout gestation. Placentae were studied at day 21 of gestation. Tissue sections were stained with lectin to allow identification of fetal capillaries and analyzed using stereological techniques. Capillary surface area density and total capillary surface area were decreased in both iron-restricted groups compared with the control group. Capillary length density was decreased in both iron-restricted groups compared with the control group. Total capillary length was significantly reduced in the 1-week, but not in the 2-week, iron-restricted group compared with the control group. Endothelial cell volume was increased in both iron-restricted groups compared to the controls. There were no significant differences in the volume of fetal capillaries, the volume of the maternal blood spaces or the surface area of the maternal–fetal interface between the control and iron-restricted groups. Labyrinthine volume, labyrinthine tissue volume and the surface area of the maternal fetal interface were increased in the 2-week group when compared with the 1-week group. These changes in placental vascularization may contribute to the fetal growth retardation observed in iron-restricted litters.
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