The rat is commonly used as a model in studies on embryology and reproduction toxicology. Surprisingly, the current literature does not provide a comprehensive reference data set on placental developmen t in rat. Therefore, we have evaluated morphologica l changes of the placenta and maternal blood parameters during pregnanc y of the Sprague–Dawley rat. The morphologic data presented in this study may be useful as reference material. This study revealed that placental developmen t in the rat is a well-de ned process, characterized by key synchronize d morphologica l events at speci c points in time, convenient for laboratory practice and provides the toxicologist with a sensitive tool to distinguish between normal and abnormal placental development and to detect fetal and placental mismatches. During rat pregnancy, signi cant changes were observed in maternal blood parameters strongly reminiscent of those observed in pregnant women. These changes included: (a) decreased blood cell volume as a result of hemodilution, (b) increased white blood cell counts re ecting the response of the mother to the fetal allograft, (c) increased blood clotting values, (d) decreased plasma glucose and increased lipid content maximizing fetal glucose availability and maternal energy conservation , and (e) decreased electrolyte values re ecting plasma volume expansion . It was concluded that the combined data set on placental morpholog y and maternal blood parameters in pregnant rats provides powerful tools for recognition of abnormal pregnancies.
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