Magnetic resonance imaging of hypoxic injury to the murine placenta

Tracy M. Tomlinson, Joel R. Garbow, Jeff R. Anderson, John A. Engelbach, D. Michael Nelson, Yoel Sadovsky

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50 Scopus citations


We assessed the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to define placental hypoxic injury associated with fetal growth restriction. On embryonic day 18.5 (E18.5) we utilized dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE)-MRI on a 4.7-tesla small animal scanner to examine the uptake and distribution of gadoliniumbased contrast agent. Quantitative DCE parameter analysis was performed for the placenta and fetal kidneys of three groups of pregnant C57BL/6 mice: 1) mice that were exposed to FIO2 = 12% between E15.5 and E18.5, 2) mice in normoxia with food restriction similar to the intake of hypoxic mice between E15.5 and E18.5, and 3) mice in normoxia that were fed ad libitum. After imaging, we assessed fetoplacental weight, placental histology, and gene expression. We found that dams exposed to hypoxia exhibited fetal growth restriction (weight reduction by 28% and 14%, respectively, P < 0.05) with an increased placental-to-fetal ratio. By using MRI-based assessment of placental contrast agent kinetics, referenced to maternal paraspinous muscle, we found decreased placental clearance of contrast media in hypoxic mice, compared with either control group (61%, P < 0.05). This was accompanied by diminished contrast accumulation in the hypoxic fetal kidneys (23%, P < 0.05), reflecting reduced transplacental gadolinium transport. These changes were associated with increased expression of placental Phlda2 and Gcm1 transcripts. Exposure to hypoxia near the end of mouse pregnancy reduces placental perfusion and clearance of contrast. MRI-based DCE imaging provides a novel tool for dynamic, in vivo assessment of placental function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R312-R319
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Fetal growth restriction
  • Hypoxia
  • Placenta


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