Immunocytological evidence for hematopoiesis in the early human placenta

Placenta. 2005 Apr;26(4):282-8. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2004.06.007.


Hematopoiesis has previously been observed in the human yolk sac, in placental villi and in the embryonic aorta. Here, our immunocytological study at 24 and 35 days showed packed erythroblasts in the placental vessels, mitotic figures and anti-Ki-67 reactions within these cells. Morphologically, the erythroblasts and vessels were similar to those found in the yolk sac during primitive hematopoiesis. In addition, numerous extravascular erythroblasts were found in the villous core. Positive reactions were obtained in erythroblasts using antibodies against glycophorin-A, GATA-2 and C-kit that characterize the hematopoietic cells. However, erythroblasts did not react with anti-CD34 and anti-CD45. In this respect, they differ from the hematopoietic cell clusters observed in the aorta of the human embryo. The staining for glycophorin-A was maintained in erythroblasts at 6-7 weeks and 12-14 weeks. Anti-GATA-2 reaction was decreased in erythroblasts and appeared in the perivillous cytotrophoblast. Anti-C-kit signal was detected in endothelial cells at 6-7 weeks and switched to stromal and perivascular cells at 12-14 weeks. By term, anti-GATA-2 staining was still present in the trophoblast and appeared in vessels while anti-C-kit was negative. For the leukocytes marker CD15, a staining was found in the endothelium at 35 days, 6-7 and 12-14 weeks and in leukocytes at term. CD45 antibody decorated the leukocytes at 12-14 weeks and at term. Erythroblasts undergo a primitive hematopoiesis in the early placental vessels that may be of value for the embryo in a period of low oxygen environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Erythroblasts / cytology
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Hematopoiesis*
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Placenta / immunology
  • Placenta / ultrastructure*
  • Pregnancy*