• C57BL/6N mouse;
  • CD-1 mouse;
  • developmental immunotoxicology;
  • digit;
  • Freund's complete adjuvant;
  • placenta

Problem  Immunostimulation reduces murine teratogen-induced birth defects. It is unclear if placental improvement contributes to this outcome. The current study examined murine placental ultrastructure and fetal limb development following maternal methylnitrosourea (MNU) exposure, ±Freund's complete adjuvant (FCA) immunostimulation.

Method of study  Two murine strains (CD-1, C57BL/6N) were administered MNU on gestation day 9 (GD9), FCA pre-breeding, or FCA + MNU. Fetal limb and placental development were examined on GD14.

Results  MNU decreased placental weight and reduced placental cellular viability; FCA reversed these effects. MNU shortened fetal limbs and increased digital defects in both strains. Placentas were less damaged in C57BL/6N versus CD-1 mice, and distal limb malformations improved only in CD-1 mice. FCA immunostimulation also increased pregnancy rate.

Conclusion  Improved fetal outcome from immune-stimulated mice may not be dependent on improved placental morphology. However, placental function and morphology in immune-stimulated mice may not directly correlate, thus functional improvements should be examined for possible relationship to reduced birth defects.