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Annu Rev Anim Biosci. 2013 Jan;1:443-67. doi: 10.1146/annurev-animal-031412-103653. Epub 2013 Jan 3.

The evolution of epitheliochorial placentation.

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1
Cardiovascular and Renal Research, Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Southern Denmark, Odense DK-5000, Denmark; email: acarter@health.sdu.dk.

Abstract

Epitheliochorial placentation is a derived condition and has evolved separately in strepsirrhine primates and laurasiatherians (pangolins, whales, and hoofed mammals). Usually it is associated with a long gestation period, small litters, and precocial young. Oxygen transfer is facilitated by indenting of the uterine and trophoblast epithelia by maternal and fetal capillaries, respectively. Histotrophic nutrition is important, and adaptations include areolas and hemophagous regions. In pigs and horses, for example, iron is transported as uteroferrin secreted from the uterine glands and taken up by areolas. In the horse, invasive trophoblast cells form cups within the endometrium that are the source of equine chorionic gonadotropin. In ruminants, binucleate trophoblast cells fuse with uterine epithelial cells to form trinucleate cells or plaques that secrete pregnancy hormones. There is evidence of immunosuppression in connection with these more invasive types of trophoblasts. The epitheliochorial condition may be advantageous for long pregnancies in large animals.

KEYWORDS:

glucose transporters; macrophages; natural killer cells; placental hormones; regulatory T cells; uteroferrin

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