May 23, 2019 | Updated: 06:04 PM EDT

Study Reveals Human Placenta Exchange Through 3-D Modelling

Apr 18, 2019 08:52 AM EDT

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3-D Modeling of the Human Placenta
(Photo : University of Manchester)

Researchers from the University of Manchester and St. Mary's Hospital have developed a novel three-dimensional human placenta imaging to determine why fetal growth restriction occurs. 

Complex blood vessel networks transport important life-giving nutrients around the body. However, science still has few explanations regarding the physical factors that contribute to to the transport of these nutrients across the body. 

The researchers mathematically modeled the human placenta in order to explain the processes that happen and their findings were published in Science Advances. 

The growing fetus depends its survival on the placenta. "The placenta contains numerous terminal villi, small structures containing disordered networks of fetal capillaries that are surrounded by maternal blood,"according to Medical Xpress

There are various functions that a placenta assumes at the same time. It permits the oxygen and vital nutrient exchange between the mother and the developin fetus. 

The 3-D imaging tool was able to model how the placenta performs complex proceses and has been used by different members of the team comprise of clinical consultants, physiologists, physicists, and mathematicians. 

"In our new study we show how the irregular three-dimensional structure of a terminal villus determines its capacity to exchange solutes such as oxygen between mother and fetus," said lead author Dr. Igor Chernyavsky, MRC & Presidential Research Fellow.

"Combining image analysis and computational fluid dynamics, we can now quantify mathematically the exchange capacity of individual terminal villi. We now anticipate that this advance will aid the development of larger-scale computational models of placental function. We hope that our new understanding of the role of placental geometry in fetal development will help clinicians address diseases where placental structure is compromised." 

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