This guide to animal models of human placentation assesses the strengths and weaknesses of species in common use. We argue that structural differences from human placenta, though important in some contexts, are less of a drawback than differences in reproductive strategy. Many laboratory rodents have brief gestations resulting in the birth of poorly developed young. They can provide useful insights on placental development and function relevant to early human pregnancy. However, to model the events of a 9-month gestation, which imposes added requirements on the placenta, it is necessary to consider animal models with longer gestations and well-developed neonates. Placentation in different orders of mammal is surveyed and their proximity to humans described in an evolutionary context. Animal models are then compared with the human in terms of the functional anatomy, physiology, and immunology of the placenta. This information is collated both to assess common animal models such as mouse, sheep, and primates and to introduce some alternatives that we consider worthy of attention.
Pathobiology of Human Disease: A Dynamic Encyclopedia of Disease Mechanisms, 2014