Placental Development with Expected Normal Gross and Microscopic Findings

  • Amy Heerema-McKenneyEmail author


This chapter provides a brief overview to the development, normal gross and microscopic appearance of the placenta. Placental development is presented in terms of the changing microanatomy to better understand the organisation of the mature tissues. The placenta is a complex organ with divergent normal histology over time in one individual and between individuals at similar gestational age. Separating the whole into anatomic compartments facilitates placental examination. These compartments may genetically identify with the fetus or the mother. The anatomic compartments addressed in the gross and microscopic examination include the umbilical cord (fetus), the extraplacental membranes (fetus and mother), the chorionic plate and chorionic plate vasculature (fetus), the stem villi (fetus), the distal villi (fetus), the intervillous space (predominantly maternal with some fetal elements) and the basal plate with basal decidua (predominantly maternal with some fetal elements).


Placental development Normal histology Trophoblast 


  1. 1.
    Hamilton WJ, Boyd JD, Mossman HW. Chapter V. The implantation of the blastocyst and the development of the foetal membranes, placenta and decidua. In: Human embryology-Prenatal development of form and function. Cambridge: W. Heffer & Sons; 1945. p. 45–89.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Pathak S, Hook E, Hackett G, Murdoch E, Sebire NJ, Jessop F, et al. Cord coiling, umbilical cord insertion and placental shape in an unselected cohort delivering at term: relationship with common obstetric outcomes. Placenta. 2010;31:963–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Biron-Shental T, Fejgin MD, Sifakis S, Liberman M, Antsaklis A, Amiel A. Endoreduplication in cervical trophoblast cells from normal pregnancies. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2012;25:2625–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Stanek J. Membrane microscopic chorionic pseudocysts are associated with increased amount of placental extravillous trophoblasts. Pathology. 2010;42:125–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bendon RW, Coventry SC, Reed RC. Reassessing the clinical significance of chorionic membrane microcysts and linear necrosis. Pediatr Dev Pathol. 2012;15:213–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Stanek J, Al-Ahmadie HA. Laminar necrosis of placental membranes: a histologic sign of uteroplacental hypoxia. Pediatr Dev Pathol. 2005;8:34–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Aplin JD, Whittaker H, Jana Lim YT, Swietlik S, Charnock J, Jones CJP. Hemangioblastic foci in human first trimester placenta: distribution and gestational profile. Placenta. 2015;36:1069–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Castellucci M, Kaufmann P. A three-dimensional study of the normal human placental villous core: II. Stromal architecture. Placenta. 1982;3:269–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Castellucci M, Kaufmann P. Evolution of the stroma in human chorionic villi throughout pregnancy. Bibl Anat. 1982;22:40–5.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Castellucci M, Kosanke G, Verdenelli F, Huppertz B, Kaufmann P. Villous sprouting: fundamental mechanisms of human placental development. Hum Reprod Update. 2000;6:485–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Demir R, Kaufmann P, Castellucci M, Erbengi T, Kotowski A. Fetal vasculogenesis and angiogenesis in human placental villi. Acta Anat. 1989;136:190–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Frank HG, Kaufmann P. Nonvillous parts and trophoblast invasion. In: Benirschke K, Kaufmann P, editors. Pathology of the human placenta. 4th ed. Berlin: Springer; 2000. p. 226–7.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Robert J. Tomsich Pathology and Laboratory Medicine InstituteCleveland Clinic FoundationClevelandUSA

Personalised recommendations