Allantoplacental ultrastructure of an Andean population of Mabuya (Squamata, Scincidae)

Authors

  • Martha Patricia Ramírez-Pinilla,

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratorio de Biología Reproductiva de Vertebrados, Escuela de Biología, Universidad Industrial de Santander, Bucaramanga, Colombia
    • Laboratorio de Biología Reproductiva de Vertebrados, Universidad Industrial de Santander, A.A. 678, Bucaramanga, Colombia
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  • Gloria De Pérez,

    1. Laboratorio de Microscopía Electrónica, Departamento de Biología, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia
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  • J. Fernando Carreño-Escobar

    1. Laboratorio de Biología Reproductiva de Vertebrados, Escuela de Biología, Universidad Industrial de Santander, Bucaramanga, Colombia
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Abstract

Mabuya species are highly matrotrophic viviparous lizards with Type IV epitheliochorial allantoplacenta. The allantoplacenta of an Andean population of this genus, currently assigned to Mabuya sp., possesses specializations related to histotrophic nutrition at the embryonic hemisphere (placentome, paraplacentome, and chorionic areolas), while at the abembryonic hemisphere it has a mixed function: histotrophic transfer (absorptive plaques) and hemotrophic nutrition (gas exchange in respiratory segments). These placental specializations were studied using high-resolution light microscopy and transmission electron microscopy, and were compared with those found in other squamate reptiles and eutherian mammals. Cytological features of the placentome suggest that this is an important region for nutritional provision; the paraplacentome also shows characteristics for nutrient transfer, especially lipids. Chorionic areolas allow the absorption of glandular products, as well as uterine and chorionic cellular debris produced by lysis of some cells of both epithelia during areola formation. In the absorptive plaques both uterine and chorionic epithelia are firmly attached and their cellular apices exhibit electron-dense granules that could be related to autocrine and paracrine functions. The short interhemal distance found in the respiratory segments confirms their role in gas exchange. A common feature of all regional specializations in the Mabuya sp. allantoplacenta is the presence of lipids in the interacting chorionic and uterine epithelia, suggesting that lipids are transferred throughout the entire embryonic chamber; placental transfer of lipids may be the principal fetal energy and lipid source in this species. In spite of this feature, each one of the specialized areas of the allantoplacenta has different features suggesting particular functions in the transfer of nutrients (as ions, lipids, proteins, amino acids, sugar, water, and gases), and in the possible synthesis of hormones and proteins. The placental complexity observed in this species of Mabuya is greater than in any other reptile, and resembles that of eutherian mammals: Each one of these specializations of the placental membranes in Mabuya sp. is similar to those found among different eutherian mammals, indicating a very impressive evolutionary convergence at the histological and cytological levels between both clades. However, no eutherian mammal species simultaneously displays all of these specializations in the embryonic chamber as does Mabuya sp. J. Morphol. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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