Assessment of Maternal Vascular Remodeling During Pregnancy in the Mouse Uterus.
The placenta mediates the exchange of factors such as gases and nutrients between mother and fetus and has specific demands for supply of blood from the maternal circulation. The maternal uterine vasculature needs to adapt to this temporary demand and the success of this arterial remodeling process has implications for fetal growth. Cells of the maternal immune system, especially natural killer (NK) cells, play a critical role in this process. Here we describe a method to assess the degree of remodeling of maternal spiral arteries during mouse pregnancy. Hematoxylin and eosin-stained tissue sections are scanned and the size of the vessels analysed. As a complementary validation method, we also present a qualitative assessment for the success of the remodeling process by immunohistochemical detection of smooth muscle actin (SMA), which normally disappears from within the arterial vascular media at mid-gestation. Together, these methods enable determination of an important parameter of the pregnancy phenotype. These results can be combined with other endpoints of mouse pregnancy to provide insight into the mechanisms underlying pregnancy-related complications.
Wellcome Trust (094073/Z/10/Z)