Virchows Archiv B

, Volume 60, Issue 1, pp 365–372 | Cite as

Proliferation of villous trophoblast of the human placenta in normal and abnormal pregnancies

  • H. Arnholdt
  • F. Meisel
  • K. Fandrey
  • U. Löhrs


The proliferation of villous trophoblast in the human placenta was estimated throughout normal gestation and in term placentae from preeclamptic and smoking mothers by two different methods. These were: 1) labeling of DNA producing cells by bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) followed by immunohistochemistry using a monoclonal anti-BrdU antibody, and 2) immunohistochemical identification of all proliferating cells by the monoclonal antibody Ki67. Both methods revealed comparable results. In uncomplicated pregnancies there was a remarkable decrease in the labeling indices from early gestation to term. This was the result of a diminution of the number of Langhans’ cells, although the cell division rate within the Langhans’ cell layer remained nearly constant throughout gestation. A prolongation of the cell cycle in the cytotrophoblast cells at term was indicated by an increase in the Ki67/BrdU ratio. Compared with normal term placentae, there was an increase in the trophoblast proliferation rate in preeclampsia, but not in placentae from smoking mothers. Moreover, the number of Langhans’ cells was diminished in placentae from smokers. The results indicate that there are different pathogenetic mechanisms of placental impairment in preeclampsia and in maternal smoking. In preeclampsia an injury to the syncytiotrophoblast seems to lead to a repair hyperplasia of the cytotrophoblast, whereas in maternal smoking, there seems to be a direct toxic effect on the cytotrophoblastic cells.


Placenta Trophoblast Proliferation Pre-eclampsia Smoking 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Arnholdt
    • 1
  • F. Meisel
    • 1
  • K. Fandrey
    • 1
  • U. Löhrs
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Pathology of the Medical University of LübeckLübeck 1Federal Republic of Germany

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