Ultrastructural observations on the placenta of the alpaca (Lama pacos)

D. H. Steven, G. J. Burton, J. Sumar, P. W. Nathanielsz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The alpaca is one of the four South American species of the family Camelidae. Its placenta, like that of other camelids, is diffuse and epitheliochorial in type. The chorionic epithelium is thrown into unbranched villi or folds which are closely apposed to corresponding undulations of the uterine epithelium, and the fetal-maternal interface consists of an intricate interdigitation of fetal and maternal microvilli. In late gestation both chorionic and uterine epithelia are deeply indented by placental capillaries, so that the minimum intercapillary distance across the diffusion pathway may be as little as 2 μm. This distance appears to be less than that found in the epitheliochorial placenta of any other species of domestic ungulate in late gestation: it may be one of several adaptations to pregnancy at high altitude. Delivery of the fetal membranes occurs some 45 minutes after the birth of the fetus. The placenta is non-deciduate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-32
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1980
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Developmental Biology


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