Chorionic villi

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Chorionic villi
Chorionic villi - intermed mag.jpg
Micrograph showing chorionic villi. Intermediate magnification. H&E stain.
Chorionic villi - very high mag.jpg
Micrograph showing chorionic villi. Very high magnification. H&E stain.
Days 24
Gray's p.60
MeSH Chorionic+Villi
Anatomical terminology

Chorionic villi are villi that sprout from the chorion in order to give a maximum area of contact with the maternal blood.

They are the sine qua non of pregnancy, from a histomorphologic perspective, and are by definition products of conception.

Embryonic blood is carried to the villi by the branches of the umbilical arteries, and after circulating through the capillaries of the villi, is returned to the embryo by the umbilical veins.

Thus, the villi are part of the border between maternal and fetal blood during pregnancy.

Use for prenatal diagnosis[edit]

In 1983 an Italian biologist named Giuseppe Simoni discovered a new method of prenatal diagnosis using chorionic villi.


The chorion undergoes rapid proliferation and forms numerous processes, the chorionic villi, which invade and destroy the uterine decidua and at the same time absorb from it nutritive materials for the growth of the embryo.

They undergo several stages, depending on their composition.

Stage Description Period of gestation Contents
Primary The chorionic villi are at first small and non-vascular. 13–15 days trophoblast only[1]
Secondary The villi increase in size and ramify, while the mesoderm grows into them. 16–21 days trophoblast and mesoderm[1]
Tertiary Branches of the umbilical vessels grow into the mesoderm, and in this way the chorionic villi are vascularized. 21st day trophoblast, mesoderm, and blood vessels[1]

Until about the end of the second month of pregnancy the villi cover the entire chorion, and are almost uniform in size, but after this they develop unequally.


The villi can also be classified by their relations:

Floating villi[edit]

These villi are found floating freely in the intervillous space. They exhibit a bi-layered epithelium consisting of cytotrophoblasts with overlaying syncytium (syncytiotrophoblast).

Anchoring (stem) villi[edit]

These villi act to stabilize mechanical integrity of the placental-maternal interface.

Tissue composition and cell types[edit]

The bulk of the villi consist of connective tissues in which blood vessels are found. Most of the cells in the connective tissue core of the villi are fibroblasts. Macrophages known as Hofbauer cells are also present.

Additional images[edit]

Stem cell[edit]

Chorionic villi are a rich source of stem cells. Biocell Center, a biotech company managed by Giuseppe Simoni, is studying and testing these types of stem cells. Chorionic stem cells, like amniotic stem cells, are uncontroversial multipotent stem cells.[2][3][4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Larsen, William J. : Human embryology. Sherman, Lawrence S.; Potter, S. Steven; Scott, William J. 3. ed.
  2. ^ "European Biotech Company Biocell Center Opens First U.S. Facility for Preservation of Amniotic Stem Cells in Medford, Massachusetts | Reuters". 2009-10-22. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  3. ^ "Europe's Biocell Center opens Medford office - Daily Business Update - The Boston Globe". 2009-10-22. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  4. ^ "The Ticker -". Retrieved 2010-01-11. 

External links[edit]

This article incorporates text from a public domain edition of Gray's Anatomy.