Morphological changes in fixed stromal cells and Hofbauer cells were studied throughout pregnancy in different types of placental chorionic villi by scanning electron microscopy. In the mesenchymal villus the fixed stromal cells were characterized by thin cytoplasmic processes. Hofbauer cells exhibited blebs on their surface. Large sail-like processes with a crescent profile which surrounded well developed stromal channels and a small cell body typified the small reticulum cells of the immature intermediate villus. The Hofbauer cells here displayed blebs, microplicae and large lamellipodia. Short cytoplasmic expansions and a large cell body characterized the fibroblasts present inside the stem villus. Hofbauer cells were rare, having blebs or a few short lamellipodia. The mature intermediate villus contained small and large reticulum cells. The latter had a much larger cell body than the small ones and displayed a few short cytoplasmic processes partly delimiting narrow incomplete stromal channels. Occasional Hofbauer cells with small microplicae and/or blebs were present. The small reticulum cells and fibroblasts present in the terminal villus showed similar morphological features as above. However, the former exhibited less developed cytoplasmic extensions and therefore no stromal channels were observed. In the terminal villus, the morphology of the rare Hofbauer cells was similar to that found in the mature intermediate villus.
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