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Placenta. 2007 Feb-Mar;28(2-3):249-57. Epub 2006 Jun 5.

Placental function in two distantly related marsupials.

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Department of Zoology, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia.


The biochemical composition of uterine and fetal fluids during pregnancy of the grey short-tailed opossum was compared with new and published data on the tammar wallaby. In the grey short-tailed opossum, there are three main phases of embryonic nourishment. During the first phase, the embryo obtains nutrients from uterine secretion transferred into the yolk sac. The amount of uterine secretion declines during the second phase up to the time of shell coat rupture. As a result, the protein concentration in yolk sac fluid also declines. During phase three, which begins with shell coat rupture, nutrients are predominantly available from the maternal blood. In the grey short-tailed opossum that lacks a vesicular, fluid-filled allantois, waste products such as urea are apparently stored in the yolk sac and from there pass into the maternal circulation across the invasive yolk sac placenta. In contrast, in the tammar wallaby, the main source of nutrients available to the late term fetus is glandular secretion that is complemented by substances from the maternal circulation via the chorio-vitelline placenta, and waste products are stored in the large, fluid-filled allantois.

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