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Use of Photoacoustic Imaging to Study the Effects of Anemia on Placental Oxygen Saturation in Normoxic and Hypoxic Conditions.

Reproductive Sciences 2023 November 28
We aimed to evaluate fetal and placental oxygen saturation (sO2) in anemic and non-anemic pregnant rats throughout gestation using photoacoustic imaging (PAI). Female Sprague-Dawley rats were fed an iron-restricted or iron-replete diet before and during pregnancy. On gestational days 13, 18, and 21, PAI was coupled with high resolution ultrasound to measure oxygenation of the fetus, whole placenta, mesometrial triangle, as well as the maternal and fetal faces of the placenta. PAI was performed in 3D, which allowed sO2 to be measured within an entire region, as well as in 2D, which enabled sO2 measurements in response to a hypoxic event in real time. Both 3D and 2D PAI were performed at varying levels of FiO2 (fraction of inspired oxygen). Iron restriction caused anemia in dams and fetuses, a reduction in fetal body weight, and an increase in placental weight, but overall had minimal effects on sO2. Reductions in FiO2 caused corresponding reductions in sO2 which correlated to the severity of the hypoxic challenge. Regional differences in sO2 were evident within the placenta and between the placenta and fetus. In conclusion, PAI enables non-invasive measurement of sO2 both rapidly and with a high degree of sensitivity. The lack of overt changes in sO2 levels between control and anemic fetuses may suggest reduced oxygen extraction and utilization in the latter group, which could be attributed to compensatory changes in growth and developmental trajectories.

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