Myocytes of Chorionic Vessels from Placentas with Meconium-Associated Vascular Necrosis Exhibit Apoptotic Markers

Erin L. King, Raymond W. Redline, Steven D. Smith, Frederick T. Kraus, Yoel Sadovsky, D. Michael Nelson

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26 Scopus citations


Meconium-associated vascular necrosis (MAVN) is a histological abnormality of human placental chorionic vessels that is associated with poor neonatal outcome. We tested the hypothesis that MAVN shows apoptosis in the walls of chorionic vessels. Archival placental specimens with MAVN (n = 5) were compared with specimens from uncomplicated pregnancies at term (n = 5) and from placentas with intense chorionic vasculitis associated with acute chorioamnionitis with (n = 5) or without (n = 5) a clinical history of meconium in the amniotic fluid. Sections from all placentas were processed by the TUNEL method, and 2 observers who were blinded to specimen diagnosis quantified the immunofluorescent TUNEL staining in both the amnion-facing and villous-facing walls of the larger chorionic vessels in each specimen. Compared with the other 3 groups, only the amnion-facing wall of chorionic vessels in MAVN showed a significantly greater number of apoptotic cells. This was verified by morphological criteria and caspase 3 staining. There were limited or no detectable TUNEL-stained cells in either the villous-facing walls of vessels in the MAVN specimens or in any of the vessels of the placentas from uncomplicated pregnancies. There was a negligible level of apoptosis in chorionic vessels of placentas with intense chorionic vasculitis, with or without meconium, despite the inflammatory response or presence of meconium. We conclude that apoptosis contributes to the pathophysiology of MAVN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-417
Number of pages6
JournalHuman Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2004


  • Apoptosis
  • Chronic vessels
  • Meconium
  • Placenta


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