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Placental angiogenesis is critical for normal development. Angiogenic factors and their receptors are key regulators of this process. Dysregulated placental vascular development is associated with pregnancy complications. Despite their importance, vascular growth factor expression has not been thoroughly correlated with placental morphologic development across gestation in cats. We postulate that changes in placental vessel morphology can be appreciated as consequences of dynamic expression of angiogenic signaling agents. Here, we characterized changes in placental morphology alongside expression analysis of angiogenic factor splice variants and receptors throughout pregnancy in domestic shorthair cats. We observed increased vascular and lamellar density in the lamellar zone during mid-pregnancy. Immunohistochemical analysis localized the vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) receptor KDR to endothelial cells of the maternal and fetal microvasculatures. PlGF and its principal receptor Flt-1 were localized to the trophoblasts and fetal vasculature. VEGF-A was found in trophoblast cells and associated with endothelial cells. We detected expression of two Plgf splice variants and four Vegf-a variants. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis showed upregulation of mRNAs encoding pan Vegf-a and all Vegf-a splice forms at gestational days 30-35. Vegf-A showed a marked relative increase in expression during mid-pregnancy, consistent with the pro-angiogenic changes seen in the lamellar zone at days 30-35. Flt-1 was upregulated during late pregnancy. Plgf variants showed stable expression during the first two-thirds of pregnancy, followed by a marked increase toward term. These findings revealed specific spatiotemporal expression patterns of VEGF-A family members consistent with pivotal roles during normal placental development. © The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Society for the Study of Reproduction. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


Erwin K Gudenschwager-Basso, Galit Frydman, Shaneke Weerakoon, Hariyat Andargachew, Cassandra M Piltaver, William R Huckle. Morphological evaluation of the feline placenta correlates with gene expression of vascular growth factors and receptors†. Biology of reproduction. 2024 Mar 13;110(3):569-582

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PMID: 38092011

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