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Trends Microbiol. 2005 Apr;13(4):164-74.

Insights into viral transmission at the uterine-placental interface.

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Department of Cell and Tissue Biology, University of California San Francisco, UCSF Box 0422, San Francisco, California, CA 94143, USA.


During human gestation, viruses can cause intrauterine infections associated with pregnancy complications and fetal abnormalities. The ability of viruses to spread from the infected mother to the fetus arises from the architecture of the placenta, which anchors the fetus to the uterus. Placental cytotrophoblasts differentiate, assume an endothelial phenotype, breach uterine blood vessels and form a hybrid vasculature that amplifies the maternal blood supply for fetal development. Human cytomegalovirus - the major cause of congenital disease - infects the uterine wall and the adjacent placenta, suggesting adaptation for pathogen survival in this microenvironment. Infection of villus explants and differentiating and/or invading cytotrophoblasts offers an in vitro model for studying viruses associated with prenatal infections.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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