Real-Time Monitoring of Placental Oxygenation during Maternal Hypoxia and Hyperoxygenation Using Photoacoustic Imaging

Chloé J. Arthuis, Anthony Novell, Florian Raes, Jean-michel Escoffre, Stéphanie Lerondel, Alain Le Pape, Ayache Bouakaz, Franck Perrotin
PURPOSE: This preclinical study aimed to evaluate placental oxygenation in pregnant rats by real-time photoacoustic (PA) imaging on different days of gestation and to specify variations in placental oxygen saturation under conditions of maternal hypoxia and hyperoxygenation. MATERIAL AND METHODS: Placentas of fifteen Sprague-Dawley rats were examined on days 14, 17, and 20 of pregnancy with a PA imaging system coupled to high-resolution ultrasound imaging. Pregnant rats were successively exposed to hyperoxygenated and hypoxic conditions by changing the oxygen concentration in inhaled gas. Tissue oxygen saturation was quantitatively analyzed by real-time PA imaging in the skin and 3 regions of the placenta. All procedures were performed in accordance with applicable ethical guidelines and approved by the animal care committee. RESULTS: Maternal hypoxia was associated with significantly greater decrease in blood oxygen saturation (ΔO2 Saturation) in the skin (70.74% ±7.65) than in the mesometrial triangle (32.66% ±5.75) or other placental areas (labyrinth: 18.58% ± 6.61; basal zone: 13.13% ±5.72) on different days of pregnancy (P<0.001). ΔO2 Saturation did not differ significantly between the labyrinth, the basal zone, and the decidua. After the period of hypoxia, maternal hyperoxygenation led to a significant rise in oxygen saturation, which returned to its initial values in the different placental regions (P<0.001). CONCLUSIONS: PA imaging enables the variation of blood oxygen saturation to be monitored in the placenta during maternal hypoxia or hyperoxygenation. This first preclinical study suggests that the placenta plays an important role in protecting the fetus against maternal hypoxia.

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