Branching patterns of human placental villous trees: perspectives of topological analysis

Placenta. Sep-Oct 1993;14(5):591-604. doi: 10.1016/s0143-4004(05)80212-7.


Topological analysis was applied to investigate the branching pattern of three specimens obtained from early human placenta (6, 9, and 16 weeks p.m.) reconstructed on the basis of semi-thin sections. Centripetal Horton-Strahler and centrifugal branching order nomenclature was used for topological description of the analysed tree-like structures. Bifurcation ratio and vertex ratio were determined for all three cases and were found to be relatively constant. It was shown that branching pattern is closely related to the model of random segment branching that implicates a high level of asymmetry and a small level of space limitation for branching. The significance of this approach for the analysis of development of the villous tree, for the analysis of mesenchymal villous heterogeneity, and for the estimation of physiological parameters for fetoplacental exchange is discussed. We suggest that topological analysis can lead to a new quantitative classification of branching patterns of the human placental villous trees in normal and pathologic pregnancies.

MeSH terms

  • Chorionic Villi / anatomy & histology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Models, Anatomic
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First