Placental microstructure and efficiency in cloned bovines: a design-based stereological approach
To elucidate the morphological differences between placentas from normal and cloned cattle pregnancies reaching term, the umbilical cord, placentomes and interplacentomal region of the fetal membranes were examined macroscopically as well as by light and scanning electron microscopy. In pregnancies established by somatic nucleus transfer (NT), the umbilical cord and fetal membranes were edematous. Placentomal fusion was common, resulting in increased size and a decreased number of placentomes. Extensive areas of the chorioallantoic membrane were devoid of placentomes. An increased number of functional or accessory microcotyledons (<1 cm) were present at the maternally oriented surface of fetal membranes. Extensive areas of extravasated maternal blood were present within the placentomes and in the interplacentomal region. The crypts on the caruncular surface were dilated and accommodated complexes of more than one primary villus, as opposed to a single villus in non-cloned placentae. Scanning electron microscopy of blood vessel casts revealed that there was also more than one stem artery per villous tree and that the ramification of the vessels failed to form dense complexes of capillary loops and sinusoidal dilations as in normal pregnancies. At the materno-fetal interface, however, the trophoblast and uterine epithelium had normal histology. In conclusion, the NT placentas had a range of pathomorphological changes; this was likely associated with the poor clinical outcome of NT pregnancies.