Nanoparticle Contrast-enhanced MRI for Visualization of Retroplacental Clear Space Disruption in a Mouse Model of Placental Accreta Spectrum (PAS)

Published:September 24, 2022DOI:


      Prior preclinical studies established the utility of liposomal nanoparticle blood-pool contrast agents in visualizing the retroplacental clear space (RPCS), a marker of normal placentation, while sparing fetuses from exposure because the agent does not cross the placental barrier. In this work, we characterized RPCS disruption in a mouse model of placenta accreta spectrum (PAS) using these agents.

      Materials and Methods

      Contrast-enhanced MRI (CE-MRI) and computed tomography (CE-CT) using liposomal nanoparticles bearing gadolinium (liposomal-Gd) and iodine were performed in pregnant Gab3–/– and wild type (WT) mice at day 16 of gestation. CE-MRI was performed on a 1T scanner using a 2D T1-weighted sequence (100×100×600 µm3 voxels) and CE-CT was performed at a higher resolution (70×70×70 µm3 voxels). Animals were euthanized post-imaging and feto-placental units (FPUs) were harvested for histological examination. RPCS conspicuity was scored through blinded assessment of images.


      Pregnant Gab3–/– mice showed elevated rates of complicated pregnancy. Contrast-enhanced imaging demonstrated frank infiltration of the RPCS of Gab3–/– FPUs. RPCS in Gab3–/– FPUs was smaller in volume, demonstrated a heterogeneous signal profile, and received lower conspicuity scores than WT FPUs. Histology confirmed in vivo findings and demonstrated staining consistent with a thinner RPCS in Gab3–/– FPUs.


      Imaging of the Gab3–/– mouse model at late gestation with liposomal contrast agents enabled in vivo characterization of morphological differences in the RPCS that could cause the observed pregnancy complications. An MRI-based method for visualizing the RPCS would be valuable for early detection of invasive placentation.


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