Distribution of decidual mast cells in fetal growth restriction and stillbirth at (near) term

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Introduction: Placental pathology and pregnancy complications are associated with unfavorable regulation of the maternal immune system. Although much research has been performed towards the role of immune cells like macrophages and T cells in this context, little is known about the presence and function of mast cells (MC). MC can be sub classified in tryptase-positive (MCT) and tryptase- and chymase-positive (MCTC). This study investigates the presence of MC in the decidua of pregnancies complicated by fetal growth restriction (FGR) and stillbirth (SB).

Methods: Placental tissue from FGR (n = 250), SB (n = 64) and healthy pregnancies (n = 42) was included. Histopathological lesions were classified according to the Amsterdam Placental Workshop Group criteria. Tissue sections were stained for tryptase and chymase. Decidual MC were counted manually, and the results were expressed as number of cells/mm2 decidual tissue.

Results: A significant lower median number of MCTC was found in the decidua of FGR (0.40 per mm2; p < 0.001) and SB (0.51 per mm2; p < 0.05) compared to healthy controls (1.04 per mm2). No difference in MCT number (1.19 per mm2, 1.88 per mm2 and 1.37 per mm2 respectively) was seen between the groups. There was no difference in number of MCT and MCTC between placental pathological lesions.

Discussion: Our findings suggest a shift in decidual MC balance towards MCT in pregnancy complications. No difference in numbers of MC subtypes was found to be related to histopathologic lesions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-110
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2022


  • Chymase
  • Fetal growth restriction
  • Mast cell
  • Placental pathology
  • Stillbirth
  • Tryptase


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