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J Morphol. 2006 Jan;267(1):50-6.

Binucleate trophoblast giant cells in the water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) placenta.

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Department of Morphology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of São João da Boa Vista, 13870-000 São João da Boa Vista, SP, Brazil.


The binucleate trophoblast giant cells (BNC) of the water buffalo, Bubalus bubalis, placenta were studied, with emphasis on the synthesis of BNC-specific proteins. Placentomal tissues of 27 water buffalos (2-10 months of pregnancy) were processed for light and electron microscopy. The frequency of BNCs was 20% of the trophoblastic cells in 2-3-month placentas and increased to 27% in the later stages. Ultrastructurally, binucleate cells displayed a prominent granular endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus, typical of cells involved with protein synthesis and exportation. The buffalo BNCs contained periodic acid-Schiff (PAS)-positive granules and reacted with antisera against bovine placental lactogen, prolactin-related protein-I, and pregnancy-associated glycoproteins. Lectin histochemistry with Dolichos biflorus agglutinin, Vicia villosa agglutinin, and Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin showed specific staining of BNCs. Different stages of BNC migration and fusion with uterine epithelial cells were observed. Trinucleate feto-maternal hybrid cells were the typical outcome of cell fusions. These cells underwent degeneration, with typical morphological features of apoptosis. The results revealed a strong homology between water buffalo and cattle BNCs concerning cell morphology, protein expression, glycosylation pattern, and characteristics of cell migration and fusion.

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