Morphological and histopathological changes in placentas of pregnancies with intrauterine growth restriction

Rom J Morphol Embryol. 2020 Apr-Jun;61(2):477-483. doi: 10.47162/RJME.61.2.17.


Aim: The definition of fetal growth restriction (FGR) refers to the incapability of a fetus to achieve the appropriate estimated growth, with expected fetal weight below the 10th percentile calculated for its gestational age. Placental factors and hypoxemia are considered to be essential elements with influence on intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) and fetal death. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the macroscopic and microscopic pathological findings regarding the placentas in pregnancies complicated by influence on IUGR.

Patients, materials and methods: Our study included 42 third-trimester pregnant patients admitted to the Cuza Vodă Hospital of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Iaşi, Romania, in the last three years. Soon after delivery, the 42 placentas were collected and analyzed; 32 placentas came from cases previously diagnosed with influence on IUGR and were included in our study group. Ten other placentas included in the control group were selected from uncomplicated pregnancies. Standard Hematoxylin-Eosin (HE) staining method, as well as Periodic Acid-Schiff (PAS) staining, and immunohistochemical techniques for cluster of differentiation 31 (CD31) and collagen IV were used in order to highlight the morphological features of the studied placentas.

Results: Our study revealed that reduced placental dimensions and eccentric umbilical cord insertion are correlated with the birthweight of the fetuses with IUGR (p<0.05). The most common histological finding in our study group was placental infarction later correlated with IUGR, but a certain causality could not be demonstrated, as this finding was also present in normal pregnancies. Other histopathological findings were also present in the influence on IUGR group, such as fibrin deposits, diffuse calcification, chronic villitis, avascular chronical villi, with no significant statistical correlations. CD31 was strongly immunoexpressed in the villous endothelial cells. Collagen IV presented a strong immunoreaction in the basement membrane and mesenchyme of the placental villi.

Conclusions: Our study revealed a correlation between the dimensions of the diameters and volume of the maternal placenta and the presence of influence on IUGR. Moreover, it confirms the available data suggesting that the place of insertion of the umbilical cord is correlated with the weight of the fetus. Further studies with extended panel antibodies are needed in order to determine and complete the role of these morphological changes in the development of influence on IUGR.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods*
  • Placenta / pathology*
  • Placenta Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Pregnancy