Distribution of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its binding sites at the maternal-fetal interface during gestation in pigs.Reproduction. 2001 Nov; 122(5):753-60.R
Pigs show epitheliochorial placentation, in which the maternal uterine epithelium and the fetal trophectoderm become closely apposed. There is no invasion of trophoblast into the maternal tissue, and nutrient and waste exchange take place across two epithelial layers beneath which a complex network of capillaries forms. Later in gestation, the epithelial cells become indented by blood vessels, which greatly reduces the distance for diffusion between the two circulatory systems. Vascular endothelial growth factor is a secreted homodimeric angiogenic growth factor that is involved in physiological and pathological angiogenesis. Its receptors are generally restricted to endothelial cells. Ligand binding, in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry were carried out in pig placenta throughout gestation to investigate the possible role of vascular endothelial growth factor and its receptors in non-invasive placentation. In situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry revealed that mRNA and immunoreactivity for vascular endothelial growth factor were localized in both maternal and fetal epithelial cells at the maternal-fetal interface and over the maternal glands, although the signal was generally weaker in the maternal glands. Ligand binding was used to localize for vascular endothelial growth factor receptors; no binding was observed over the maternal glands, but very strong binding was localized to the endometrial blood vessels. At the interface between maternal and fetal tissue, a similar pattern was observed whereby the numerous small capillaries at the bases of the two apposed epithelia bound vascular endothelial growth factor specifically. It is concluded that vascular endothelial growth factor produced by the maternal and fetal epithelial layers promotes the growth of capillaries locally, which would facilitate the development of two vascular networks for the efficient transfer of nutrients and waste products.