Optimising sample collection for placental research

Placenta. 2014 Jan;35(1):9-22. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2013.11.005. Epub 2013 Nov 19.


Biobanks provide an important repository of samples for research purposes. However, for those samples to reflect the in vivo state, and for experimental reliability and reproducibility, careful attention to collection, processing and storage is essential. This is particularly true for the placenta, which is potentially subjected to stressful conditions during delivery, and sample collection may be delayed owing to routine postpartum inspection by clinical staff. In addition, standardisation of the collection procedure enables samples to be shared among research groups, allowing larger datasets to be established. Here, we provide an evidence-based and experts' review of the factors surrounding collection that may influence data obtained from the human placenta. We outline particular requirements for specific techniques, and propose a protocol for optimal sample collection. We recognise that the relevance of these factors, and of the sample types collected to a particular study will depend on the research questions being addressed. We therefore anticipate that researchers will select from the protocol to meet their needs and resources available. Wherever possible, we encourage researchers to extend their collection to include additional samples that can be shared on an international collaborative basis, with appropriate informed consent, to raise the quality, as well as quantity, of placental research.

Keywords: Delivery; Gene expression; Metabolism; Placenta; Sampling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Specimen Banks*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Informed Consent / ethics
  • Metabolomics / methods
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Organ Size
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Placenta* / anatomy & histology
  • Placenta* / microbiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Specimen Handling / methods*
  • Specimen Handling / standards
  • Umbilical Cord