Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and von Willebrand factor (Factor VIII) are important components involved in the regulation of vascular development and identification of endothelial cells in many tissues. This study aimed to evaluate the presence of these substances in the placenta of pig fetuses located in different uterine regions and at different gestational ages and correlate them with fetal development. One hundred seventy-five pig fetuses from fifteen gilts slaughtered at 50, 80 and 106 days of pregnancy were used. Each uterine horn was divided into three segments, the apex, base and middle region, and also into left and right sides. The fetuses were sexed before determining their weight and anatomical measurements. The weights of the placentas were obtained for the calculation of placental efficiency, and VEGF and factor VIII were determined by immunohistochemistry. There was no significant interaction between gestational age, uterine segment or side and fetal sex in any of the variables studied. Higher VEGF and factor VIII concentrations were found at 80 and 105 days of pregnancy, and there was no significant difference between the right and left sides of the uterus, uterine segments or fetal sex. Positive correlations between VEGF and fetal weights were observed at 80 and 105 days of pregnancy, whereas factor VIII showed positive correlations with the weight and length of fetuses and placental weight and efficiency throughout pregnancy. It was concluded that VEGF and factor VIII are important growth factors associated with fetal development in pigs and are identified in all uterine segments. The concentration of these substances increases until the middle third of pregnancy which suggests that most of the uterine vascular development occurs before this stage.
Keywords: Pigs; Placental efficiency; Placental vascularization; Pregnancy; Reproduction.
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