Although environmental factors, such as high altitude and smoking, play a role, genetic factors undoubtedly contribute. Indeed, in humans, ~37% Quizartinib of fetal growth restriction can be explained by fetal genetic factors , and in mice, genetic mutations can alter fetoplacental
vascularity [10, 5, 22]. Understanding the mechanisms controlling the growth and structure of the arterial tree is important given its critical role in distributing fetoplacental blood flow throughout the exchange region, and its undoubtedly significant role in determining the total vascular resistance of the bed, a critical factor in determining flow. The latter conclusion is based on our current understanding of the distribution of vascular resistance in systemic vascular beds, where resistance in capillaries and veins is relatively low, and resistance in small arteries and arterioles predominates . Arterial-specific resistance has yet to be determined for the placenta. However, in fetal sheep, the intraplacental arteries, arterioles, capillaries, and venules of the fetoplacental arterial tree in total represent ~55% of resistance across the fetoplacental
circulation with most of the remainder residing in the umbilical artery itself . Our I-BET-762 molecular weight limited understanding of the factors determining the structure of arterial trees is due at least in part to the difficulty of visualizing, quantifying, and analyzing their structure, and statistically evaluating how the structure is altered by environment or genetics. Micro-CT imaging has enabled the generation of 3D data sets that Ureohydrolase capture the morphology and topology of arterial trees with high resolution [36, 7, 24] (Figure 1). Automated segmentation techniques have been used to analyze these datasets generating reconstructed images and quantitative parameters . Indeed,
detailed vascular analysis of other organs including the brain , lung , kidney [40, 32], liver [8, 19], and of the placenta [5, 36, 35, 11] have been undertaken. Thus, we are now at a stage where the effect of genes and environmental factors on the structure of the fetoplacental arterial tree can be quantitatively evaluated. In this review, we describe the strengths and weaknesses of micro-CT quantitation of the fetoplacental arterial tree in mice, describe recent insights into factors affecting the fetoplacental arterial microcirculation that were made possible with this technique, and will highlight important areas for future investigation. Micro-CT is a high resolution X-ray imaging modality that can provide 3D, quantitative information on the vascular tree [7, 26].