Volume 913 of the series Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology pp 149-161


Presence of Telocytes in a Non-innervated Organ: The Placenta

  • Cleofina BoscoAffiliated withLaboratorio de Placenta y Desarrollo Fetal, Anatomy and Developmental Biology Program, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Chile Email author 
  • , Eugenia DíazAffiliated withAnatomy and Developmental Biology Program, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Chile

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This chapter discusses the relationship between failure in placentation and the subsequent alterations in the normal structure of the placenta. Interstitial Cajal-like cells (ICLC) were observed for the first time in the human placenta in 2007 and later were named telocytes. Strong evidence confirms that in the placental chorionic villi, TC are located strategically between the smooth muscle cells (SMC) of the fetal blood vessel wall and the stromal myofibroblasts. As the placenta is a non-innervated organ and considering the strategic position of telocytes in chorionic villi, it has been postulated that their function would be related to signal transduction mechanisms involved in the regulation of the blood flow in the fetal vessels, as well as in the shortening/lengthening of the chorionic villi providing the necessary rhythmicity to the process of maternal/fetal metabolic exchange. In this context, telocytes represent part of a functional triad: “SMC of fetal blood vessel-telocyte-myofibroblast.” This triad takes part in the regulation of fetal growth and development via transport of nutrients and gases. This chapter also discusses the alterations in the metabolic maternal–fetal exchange, leading to intrauterine growth retardation and preeclampsia. Additionally, the apoptosis undergoing in the preeclamptic hypoxic placenta affects all the chorionic villi cells, including telocytes and myofibroblast, and not only trophoblast, as it has been so far considered. In consequence, we proposed that apoptosis affects the triad structure and alters the placental function, subsequently affecting the normal fetal growth and development.


Myofibroblast Nitrotyrosine residues Placental telocytes Preeclampsia