Computational modelling of placental amino acid transfer as an integrated system

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • External authors:
  • N. Panitchob
  • K. L. Widdows
  • C. P. Please
  • R. M. Lewis
  • B. G. Sengers


Placental amino acid transfer is essential for fetal development and its impairment is associated with poor fetal growth. Amino acid transfer is mediated by a broad array of specific plasma membrane transporters with overlapping substrate specificity. However, it is not fully understood how these different transporters work together to mediate net flux across the placenta. Therefore the aim of this study was to develop a new computational model to describe how human placental amino acid transfer functions as an integrated system. Amino acid transfer from mother to fetus requires transport across the two plasma membranes of the placental syncytiotrophoblast, each of which contains a distinct complement of transporter proteins. A compartmental modelling approach was combined with a carrier based modelling framework to represent the kinetics of the individual accumulative, exchange and facilitative classes of transporters on each plasma membrane. The model successfully captured the principal features of transplacental transfer. Modelling results clearly demonstrate how modulating transporter activity and conditions such as phenylketonuria, can increase the transfer of certain groups of amino acids, but that this comes at the cost of decreasing the transfer of others, which has implications for developing clinical treatment options in the placenta and other transporting epithelia.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1451-1461
Number of pages11
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes
Issue number7
Early online date2 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016

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