Placental changes due to administration of Diethylstilbestrol DES

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This 1980 study was undertaken to characterize placental changes in mice given daily injections of DES after implantation.


A number of pathologic changes in the placenta and decidua basalis after exposure to DES are presented and are related to concurrent embryotoxicity.

Pregnant mice were injected with 12.5 micrograms DES/kg body weight or 25 micrograms DES/kg body weight daily from gestation day 9 through day 12 or 16 and sacrificed on day 13 or 17.

Placentas of DES treated animals were smaller than controls, the effect being dose dependent. Histologic changes in 13 gestation day placentas regional thinning of the labyrinth associated with an apparent inhibition of trophoblast maturation and development of fetal blood vessels. Knots of mononuclear cells form in the labyrinthine region of 13 day placentas exposed to the higher dose of DES. By 17 days gestation, coagulative necrosis is common in the decidua basalis, being most severe in those animals receiving 25 micrograms DES/kg. In many placentas the labyrinthine region is absent. The only remaining elements are trophoblast cells, giant cells and glycogen-containing cells.

Fetal deaths associated with the lower dose of DES increased with time whereas 100% fetal mortality was associated with the higher dose.

Virchows Archiv. B, Cell pathology including molecular pathology, NCBI PubMed PMID: 6108645, 1980.

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