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Colorful pinwheel puts a new spin on mouse pregnancy

Award-winning image shows how the immune system influences placental development

By
7:00am, March 22, 2017
image of nine mouse placentas

MOMMY MICE  A pregnant mouse’s placenta develops differently depending on her immune system. This wheel shows nine developing placentas, some with normal immune cells and some without. The image is one of the winners of the 2017 Wellcome Image Awards.

View slideshow of other winners

This rainbow pinwheel of mouse placentas isn’t just an eye-catching, award-winning image. The differences in color also provide researchers with new clues to how a mother’s immune system may affect her or her baby’s health during pregnancy. The work could lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment of preeclampsia, a common pregnancy complication. 

Suchita Nadkarni, an immunologist at Queen Mary University of London, used a technique called confocal microscopy to snap individual photos of nine mouse placentas. Arranging the images in a circle is “a really powerful way of seeing what’s going on in the placenta,” she says.

The image is one of the winners of the 2017 Wellcome Image Awards, an annual contest for scientific and medical images.

The circular arrangement shows how neutrophils, a type

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