Modification of fetal plasma amino acid composition by placental amino acid exchangers in vitro

Cleal, Jane K., Brownbill, Paul, Godfrey, Keith M., Jackson, John M., Jackson, Alan A., Sibley, Colin P., Hanson, Mark A. and Lewis, Rohan M. (2007) Modification of fetal plasma amino acid composition by placental amino acid exchangers in vitro. The Journal of Physiology, 582, (2), 871-882. (doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2007.130690).


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Fetal growth is dependent on both the quantity and relative composition of amino acids delivered to the fetal circulation, and impaired placental amino acid supply is associated with restricted fetal growth. Amino acid exchangers can alter the composition, but not the quantity, of amino acids in the intra- and extracellular amino acid pools. In the placenta, exchangers may be important determinants of the amino acid composition in the fetal circulation. This study investigates the substrate specificity of exchange between the placenta and the feto-placental circulation. Maternal-fetal transfer of radiolabelled amino acids and creatinine were measured in the isolated perfused human placental cotyledon. Transfer of L-[14C]serine or L-[14C]leucine, and [3H]glycine, were measured in the absence of amino acids in the fetal circulation (transfer by non-exchange mechanisms) and following 10-20 micromol boluses of unlabelled amino acids into the fetal circulation to provide substrates for exchange (transfer by exchange and non-exchange mechanisms). The ability of fetal arterial boluses of L-alanine and L-leucine to stimulate release of amino acids from the placenta was also determined using HPLC in order to demonstrate the overall pattern of amino acid release. Experiments with radiolabelled amino acids demonstrated increased maternal-fetal transfer of L-serine and L-leucine, but not glycine, following boluses of specific amino acids into the fetal circulation. L-[14C]Leucine, but not L-[14C]serine or [3H]glycine, was transferred from the maternal to the fetal circulation by non-exchange mechanisms also (P<0.01). HPLC analysis demonstrated that fetal amino acid boluses stimulated increased transport of a range of different amino acids by 4-7 micromol l(-1) (P<0.05). Amino acid exchange provides a mechanism to supply the fetus with amino acids that it requires for fetal growth. This study demonstrates that these transporters have the capacity to exchange micromolar amounts of specific amino acids, and suggests that they play an important role in regulating fetal plasma amino acid composition.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2007.130690
ISSNs: 0022-3751 (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: amino acid transport, fetus, flacenta
Subjects: R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Q Science > QP Physiology
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Medicine > Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Medicine
ePrint ID: 48461
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
3 May 2007Published
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2007
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:24

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