Evaluation of the Placenta: Suggestions for a Greater Role in Developmental Toxicology
Both in human and in rat, two types of placenta are present: the yolk sac (YS) and the chorioallantoic placenta. Histiotrophy, α-fetoprotein synthesis and blood cell formation occur in YS of both species. Besides, the midgut, primordial germ cells and possibly immunological structures originate from the YS tissue. The specialised cells of the chorioallantoic placenta attach the embryo to the uterus and form the vascular connections necessary for the nutrient transport. The placenta redirects maternal endocrine, immune and metabolic functions to conceptus advantage. These complex activities are sensitive to direct toxicity. Indirect effects on the placental functions might be elicited by immunomodulators and endocrine disrupters. Some experimental models could be utilised to identify possible toxic effects on placenta. Among the in vitro models the rodent giant yolk sac colture may be used to study the transport of materials, morphological and/or biochemical alterations and biotrasformation activity of the visceral YS epithelium. Other in vitro approaches utilise human derived trophoblastic cells and tissues to investigate implantation and perimplantation toxicology. Besides specific studies, in vivo reproductive toxicity tests could pay more attention to the evaluation of placental tissues. Nowadays, some physiologically based pharmacokinetic models for developmental toxicity are also available to describe the disposition of toxic substances and their metabolites during pregnancy in rodents. Thus, more detailed studies on the embryo-foetal placenta may provide an important tool to understand developmental toxicity mechanisms, with particular regard to embryolethality and delayed development.
KeywordsPrimordial Germ Cell Complete Hydatidiform Mole Blood Cell Formation Chorioallantoic Placenta Endometrial Explants
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