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Bioengineering aspects of the umbilical cord

, : Bioengineering aspects of the umbilical cord. European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology 144 Suppl 1: S108-S113

The umbilical cord and its constituent tissues: an outer layer of amnion, porous Wharton's jelly, two umbilical arteries, and one umbilical vein, are designed to protect blood flow to the fetus during a term pregnancy. The outer amnion layer may regulate fluid pressure within the umbilical cord. The porous, fluid filled Wharton's jelly likely acts to prevent compression of the vessels. Blood flow is regulated by smooth muscle surrounding the arteries that is intermingled with a collagen based extracellular matrix (ECM). Doppler ultrasound measurements of blood flow within the umbilical cord, and at specific sites within the developing fetus, provide evidence of impaired blood flow in conditions such as preeclampsia. Mechanosensory communication between cells and the extracellular matrix (ECM) may likely result in cords possessing abnormal physical dimensions, impaired hemodynamics, and altered composition within the umbilical cord tissues. Few studies have explored the biomechanics of the intact umbilical cord, with its constituent tissues, from normal pregnancies or abnormal pregnancies, maternal or fetal complications. Here, alterations in the umbilical cord are reviewed concerning anatomical abnormalities, disease, or chromosomal alterations using sonography, Doppler ultrasound, histology, and biomolecular and biochemical analyses. This paper considers how current knowledge of the umbilical cord and its constituent tissues can be used to infer biomechanical function. In addition, the mechanical consequences of structural abnormalities and altered tissue structure or composition are discussed with a specific focus on preeclampsia.


PMID: 19304367

DOI: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2009.02.024

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