Three-Dimensional Histological Characterization of the Placental Vasculature Using Light Sheet Microscopy
The placenta is the first embryonic organ, representing the connection between the embryo and the mother, and is therefore necessary for the embryo’s growth and survival. To meet the ever-growing need for nutrient and gas exchange, the maternal spiral arteries undergo extensive remodeling, thus increasing the uteroplacental blood flow by 16-fold. However, the insufficient remodeling of the spiral arteries can lead to severe pregnancy-associated disorders, including but not limited to pre-eclampsia. Insufficient endovascular trophoblast invasion plays a key role in the manifestation of pre-eclampsia; however, the underlying processes are complex and still unknown. Classical histopathology is based on two-dimensional section microscopy, which lacks a volumetric representation of the vascular remodeling process. To further characterize the uteroplacental vascularization, a detailed, non-destructive, and subcellular visualization is beneficial. In this study, we use light sheet microscopy for optical sectioning, thus establishing a method to obtain a three-dimensional visualization of the vascular system in the placenta. By introducing a volumetric visualization method of the placenta, we could establish a powerful tool to deeply investigate the heterogeneity of the spiral arteries during the remodeling process, evaluate the state-of-the-art treatment options, effects on vascularization, and, ultimately, reveal new insights into the underlying pathology of pre-eclampsia.