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The placenta is one of the organs with the highest evolutionary diversity among animal species. In consequence, an animal model that reflects human placentation exactly does not exist. However, the mouse is the most frequently used animal model for placenta and pregnancy research. The question whether the similarities are sufficient for the achievement of useful results with regard to human pregnancy was debated recently at the 11th Congress of the European Society for Reproductive Immunology (Budapest, Hungary). Researchers discussed the molecular features of the human placenta that are restricted to primates or even to humans. Now, in the light of recent findings and a better understanding of interspecies differences, they conclude that the mouse model is often overvalued. Owing to the increasing number of known human-specific factors in human placentation they consider that many aspects of human placentation can only be understood on the basis of experiments on human cells and tissues in combination with data collections from human subject studies.

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