Chorioamnionitis and preeclampsia account for the majority of preterm births worldwide. Thus far, adequate methods for early detection or prevention of these diseases are lacking. In preeclampsia, accelerated villous maturation is believed to compensate placental insufficiency. However, little is known about the effects of placental inflammation in chorioamnionitis on villous maturation. Therefore, we established a set of morphological parameters to evaluate histological villous maturity in pregnancies complicated by chorioamnionitis and preeclampsia. Preterm placentas complicated by chorioamnionitis or preeclampsia were compared to idiopathic preterm placentas and term controls. Histological villous maturation was analyzed by means of 17 histological markers. Fourteen of these markers provided information on absolute and relative numbers of the terminal villi (TV), the extent of their vascularization (using CD31-stained sections) and their exchange capacities. In addition, the numbers of syncytial bridges, syncytial apoptotic knots and shed syncytiotrophoblasts were counted. Accelerated villous maturation in preeclampsia was demonstrated by means of histological villous remodeling and confirmed by 11 relevant markers. Chorioamnionitis, however, only showed increased area of fetal capillaries. In preeclampsia, placentas may transition from growth to maturation earlier than placentas in normal pregnancies, whereas in chorioamnionitis placental changes are more acute and therefore less elaborated at a structural level. Regression analysis suggests the number of all villi and the number of terminal villi as a percentage of all villi as parameters to evaluate histological villous maturity in preeclamptic placentas and to assist diagnosis. However, we would recommend to analyze all 11 relevant parameters to judge placental maturity in detail.
- Histological villous maturation
- Preterm birth
- Scoring method