Micro-anatomic alterations of the placenta in a non-human primate model of gestational protein-restriction

James Sargent, Victoria Roberts, Karen D'Souza, Adam Wright, Jessica Gaffney, Antonio Frias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objectives Maternal protein malnutrition is associated with impaired fetal growth, and lifetime consequences for the offspring. Our group has previously developed a model of protein-restriction in the non-human primate, which was associated with fetal growth restriction, stillbirth, decreased placental perfusion, and evidence of fetal hypoxia, suggesting perturbed vascular development. Our objective was to histologically characterize the micro-anatomic alterations associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes taking an approach that permits investigation of the 3D vascular structure and surrounding histology without the requirement for 3D vascular casting or relying on 2D stereology which both have methodological limitations. Methods Rhesus macaques were assigned in the pre-gestational period to a control diet that contained 26% protein, or study diet containing 13% protein (50% PR diet). Placental tissue was collected at delivery and processed using a clarification, immunohistochemistry, and confocal microscopy protocol published previously by our group. Three dimensional reconstructions and quantitative assessment of the vascular micro-anatomy was performed using analysis software (Imaris®) and statistical analysis accounted for maternal and fetal confounders. Results In unadjusted analysis, when comparing those pregnancies on a 50% PR diet (n = 4) with those on a control diet (n = 4), protein-restriction diet was associated with decreased maternal pre-pregnancy weight (difference of -1.975kg, 95% CI -3.267 to -0.6826). When controlling for maternal pre-pregnancy weight, fetal sex, and latency from tissue collection to imaging, a gestational protein-restriction diet was associated with decreases in total vascular length, total vascular surface area, total vascular volume, and vascular density. Conclusion In this pilot study, a gestational protein-restriction diet altered the placental micro-vasculature with decreased vascular caliber and density, which may be related to the observed adverse pregnancy outcomes and perturbed placental perfusion previously demonstrated in this model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0235840
JournalPloS one
Issue number7 July
StatePublished - Jul 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Micro-anatomic alterations of the placenta in a non-human primate model of gestational protein-restriction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this