Stereological assessment of placental morphology in intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy

Placenta. 2012 Nov;33(11):914-8. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2012.08.005. Epub 2012 Sep 25.


Objective: To apply stereology for the detection of possibly morphological abnormalities in placentas of women with intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP).

Study design: Prospective case-control study of placentas from untreated and UDCA-treated ICP, respectively, and normal pregnancies, examined for morphological differences by systematic random sampling generated by computerized stereology methodology.

Main outcome measures: Volume of placenta, surface area of terminal villi and capillaries, volume fraction of collagen, number of syncytial knots, and chorangiosis.

Results: Surface area of terminal villi and capillaries, and number of syncytial knots were higher in placentas from all ICP, as compared to controls (p < 0.01). A reduction of collagen was found in placentas from UDCA-treated ICP, both in comparison to placentas from untreated ICP and controls (p < 0.05).

Conclusion: ICP affects the placenta morphologically as shown by increased terminal villous and capillary surface area, and number of syncytial knots.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Capillaries / drug effects
  • Capillaries / metabolism
  • Capillaries / pathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cholagogues and Choleretics / therapeutic use
  • Cholestasis, Intrahepatic / drug therapy
  • Cholestasis, Intrahepatic / pathology*
  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects
  • Female
  • Giant Cells / drug effects
  • Giant Cells / metabolism
  • Giant Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Microscopy
  • Placenta / blood supply
  • Placenta / drug effects
  • Placenta / metabolism
  • Placenta / pathology*
  • Placental Circulation / drug effects
  • Placentation / drug effects
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy
  • Pregnancy Complications / pathology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surface Properties / drug effects
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid / therapeutic use


  • Cholagogues and Choleretics
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid
  • Collagen

Supplementary concepts

  • Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy