The Macaque Placenta—A Mini-Review

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Abstract

As part of an overview of the female reproductive organs in the macaque monkey, the present paper presents normal placental development. Although normally not examined in routine toxicologic pathology, the interest in the macaque as a model for reprotoxicity studies is increasing significantly. Based on different classifications, the macaque placenta belongs to the chorioallantoic, (bi)discoid, villous, deciduate, and hemochorial placental type. Within the first fourteen days after fertilization, a large number of events subsequently occur (apposition, adhesion, penetration and traversal of trophoblasts, blood vessel penetration, and development of villi). After this period, the basic placental structure has been laid down in the endometrium, and the initial communication between mother and fetus has been established. Further expansive growth of the placenta and development of anchoring villi are believed to be accomplished by continuous proliferation and migration of the trophoblasts from the trophoblastic shell. Despite the same function of human and macaque placentas, the morphologic structure and developmental timelines are different. Possible toxicological and physiological implications of these differences toward the value of macaques within reprotoxicity studies is discussed at the end of this paper. Besides a transporting role between mother and fetus, the placenta is also an endocrine organ that synthesizes a variety of hormones and cytokines. They influence ovarian and uterine physiology at the start of pregnancy and fetal and mammary physiology during gestation and around labor, respectively.

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