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Hum Pathol. 1999 Jan;30(1):13-20.

Morphological features of the human umbilical vein in normal, sickle cell trait, and sickle cell disease pregnancies.

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  • 1CNRS SD 401, INSERM 359, Centre Hospitalier Régional et Universitaire, Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Abstract

Pathological changes often occur in the placenta of women with sickle cell disease (SCD). These alterations are caused by sickling of erythrocytes and vasoocclusion in the placental circulation, leading to regional hypoxia. However, the morphological status of the umbilical cord, which is in close physical association with the placenta, is not documented under such conditions. To explore this, the umbilical vein structure in healthy, sickle cell trait (the heterozygous state), and SCD pregnancies was studied using scanning (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Interestingly, the sickle cell trait umbilical vein architecture was morphologically similar to that in control veins, whereas numerous alterations were seen in the SCD umbilical vein wall. In SEM, the SCD umbilical vein endothelial cells showed atypical morphologies. TEM analysis of the tunica media showed (1) smooth muscle cell proliferation and increase in the thickness of the basement membrane underlying the cells; (2) areas of necrosis; (3) reduplication of the inner elastic lamina. Such features were often seen in sickle patients vasculature at autopsy. Our findings could have importance because tissue hypoxemia is an integral part of vasoocclusion. We conclude that the SCD umbilical vein may be an additional tool for studying vasoocclusion in sickle cell disease.

PMID:
9923921
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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