placental, placentary /plas"euhn ter'ee, pleuh sen"teuh ree/, adj.
/pleuh sen"teuh/, n., pl. placentas, placentae /-tee/.
1. Anat., Zool. the organ in most mammals, formed in the lining of the uterus by the union of the uterine mucous membrane with the membranes of the fetus, that provides for the nourishment of the fetus and the elimination of its waste products.
2. Bot.
a. the part of the ovary of flowering plants that bears the ovules.
b. (in ferns and related plants) the tissue giving rise to sporangia.
[1670-80; < NL: something having a flat, circular form, L: a cake < Gk plakóenta, acc. of plakóeis flat cake, deriv. of pláx (gen. plakós) flat]

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Organ in most mammals that develops in the uterus along with a fetus to mediate metabolic exchange.

The umbilical cord attaches it to the fetus at the navel. Nutrients and oxygen in the mother's blood pass across the placenta to the fetus, and metabolic wastes and carbon dioxide from the fetus cross in the other direction; the two blood supplies do not mix. Other substances (e.g., alcohol or drugs) in the mother's blood can also cross the placenta, with effects including congenital disorders and drug addiction in the newborn (see fetal alcohol syndrome); some microorganisms can cross it to infect the fetus, but so do the mother's antibodies. The placenta, weighing a pound or more at the end of pregnancy, is expelled at parturition. Some animals eat it as a source of nutrients; in some species this stimulates lactation.

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▪ human and animal
      in zoology, the vascular (supplied with blood vessels) organ in most mammals that unites the fetus to the uterus of the mother. It mediates the metabolic exchanges of the developing individual through an intimate association of embryonic tissues and of certain uterine tissues, serving the functions of nutrition, respiration, and excretion.

      All of the fetal membranes function by adapting the developing fetus to the uterine environment. Lying in the chorionic cavity (a thin liquid-filled space) between two membranous envelopes (chorion and amnion) is a small balloon-like sac, yolk sac, or vitelline sac, attached by a delicate strand of tissue to the region where the umbilical cord (the structure connecting the fetus with the placenta) leaves the amnion. Two large arteries in the umbilical cord radiate from the attachment of the cord on the inner surface of the placenta and divide into small arteries that penetrate outward into the depths of the placenta through hundreds of branching and interlacing strands of tissue known as villi (villus). The chorionic villi cause the mother's blood vessels in their vicinity to rupture, and the villi become bathed directly in maternal blood. The constant circulation of fetal and maternal blood and the very thin tissue separation of fetal blood in the capillaries from maternal blood bathing the villi provide a mechanism for efficient interchange of blood constituents between the maternal and fetal bloodstreams without (normally) allowing any opportunity for the blood of one to pour across into the blood vessels of the other.

      Nutrients, oxygen, and antibodies (proteins formed in response to a foreign substance, or antigen), as well as other materials in the mother's blood, diffuse into the fetal blood in the capillaries of the villi, and nitrogenous wastes and carbon dioxide diffuse out of these capillaries into the maternal blood circulation. The purified and enriched blood in the capillaries of the villi is collected into fetal veins, which carry it back to the inner surface of the placenta and collect at the attachment of the cord to form the umbilical vein. This vein enters the cord alongside the two arteries and carries the blood back to the fetus, thus completing the circuit to and from the placenta.

plural  Placentas, or Placentae, 

      in botany, the surface of the carpel (highly modified leaf) to which the ovules (ovule) (potential seeds) are attached. The placenta is usually located in a region corresponding somewhat to the margins of a leaf but is actually submarginal in position. The placentation, or arrangement of ovules within the ovary, is frequently of taxonomic value. Placentation is usually submarginal in a simple pistil (female sex organ). In a compound pistil, two or more carpels (carpel) are used in various ways, placentation being parietal, with carpels united by their adjacent margins and the ovules disposed along the inner ovary walls; axile, with carpels folded inward and the ovules along the central axis of the ovary; free central, derived from the axile, with a central column bearing the ovules; basal, with ovules positioned on a low column at the base of the ovary; or laminar, with ovules scattered over the inner surfaces of carpels.

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Universalium. 2010.

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