Drug transport across the placenta

Tamar Eshkoli, Eyal Sheiner, Zvi Ben-Zvi, Valeria Feinstein, Gershon Holcberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


It has become clear that almost any drug or chemical substance administered to the mother is able to cross the placenta to some extent, unless it is metabolized or altered during passage, or else its molecular size and low lipid solubility do not allow transplacental transfer. A number of transport systems have been identified in the placenta, which recognizes a wide variety of pharmacological active drugs as substrates. In recent years, research on human placental transporters has been developing due to the increase of knowledge technology in pharmacology. In this review we will focus on the main placental transporters which are known today. The P-glycoprotein (P-gp), Breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP/ABCG2) and Multidrug resistance associated protein 2 (MDR2) transporters are expressed at the apical surface of the syncytiotrophoblast, and have a protective effect. Transporters for 5-HT (SERT) and NE (NET) are also expressed at the apical surface and regulate extracellular concentrations of monoamines. The physiologic function of Multidrug resistance associated protein (MRP) transporters (which is expressed at the basal surface of the syncytiotrophoblast) may be the removal of metabolic end products from the fetus. Some of the members of the organic anion transporters are also expressed at the basolateral surface of the syncytiotrophoblast.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)707-714
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Pharmaceutical Biotechnology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer resistance protein / mitoxantrone resistance protein
  • Monoamine transporters
  • Multidrug resistance associated protein
  • Organic anion transporters
  • P-glycoprotein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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