Massive chronic intervillositis of the placenta associated with malaria infection

Am J Surg Pathol. 1998 Aug;22(8):1006-11. doi: 10.1097/00000478-199808000-00011.


Massive chronic intervillositis (MCI) is an infrequently recognized placental lesion thought to be of immunologic origin that has been associated with poor fetal outcome. It is characterized by a prominent inflammatory infiltrate in the intervillous space, composed mainly of monocytes and macrophages that can simulate a maternal malignant disorder involving the placenta. The villi are characteristically spared. We report 74 cases of placental malarial infection with morphologic features of MCI. In all cases, the massive inflammatory infiltrate was limited to the intervillous space, which appeared largely obliterated. Increased fibrin deposition and prominent syncytial knots were frequent associated findings. Inflammatory cells were CD45 and CD68 positive, consistent with a monocyte-macrophage population. Some polymorphonuclear leukocytes and scattered T and B lymphocytes were also present. Villi were not inflamed. Malarial pigment was present in all cases, and parasitized maternal erythrocytes were evident in 73 of 74 patients. The histologic pattern of MCI was observed in 17.6% of placentas with malarial parasites. Malarial MCI affected predominantly primigravida women (77%) and was associated with a reduced birth weight, which in 39 (53%) of the infants was less than 2500 g, and a low gestational age. None of the infants with placentas with MCI died in the early neonatal period. Morphologic changes of MCI are seen in a significant percentage of placentas with malarial infection, especially in primigravida women, and are associated with a low birth weight. Malarial infection should therefore be considered in the differential diagnosis of massive intervillous infiltrates.

MeSH terms

  • Chorionic Villi / metabolism
  • Chorionic Villi / parasitology
  • Chorionic Villi / pathology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation / parasitology
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Malaria / metabolism
  • Malaria / parasitology
  • Malaria / pathology*
  • Placenta / metabolism
  • Placenta / parasitology
  • Placenta / pathology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Parasitic / metabolism
  • Pregnancy Complications, Parasitic / pathology