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Journal of Pregnancy
Volume 2012, Article ID 179827, 14 pages
Review Article

Regulation of Nutrient Transport across the Placenta

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Research, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive, Mail Code 7836, San Antonio, TX 78229-3900, USA

Received 16 March 2012; Accepted 2 September 2012

Academic Editor: Timothy Regnault

Copyright © 2012 Susanne Lager and Theresa L. Powell. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Abnormal fetal growth, both growth restriction and overgrowth, is associated with perinatal complications and an increased risk of metabolic and cardiovascular disease later in life. Fetal growth is dependent on nutrient availability, which in turn is related to the capacity of the placenta to transport these nutrients. The activity of a range of nutrient transporters has been reported to be decreased in placentas of growth restricted fetuses, whereas at least some studies indicate that placental nutrient transport is upregulated in fetal overgrowth. These findings suggest that changes in placental nutrient transport may directly contribute to the development of abnormal fetal growth. Detailed information on the mechanisms by which placental nutrient transporters are regulated will therefore help us to better understand how important pregnancy complications develop and may provide a foundation for designing novel intervention strategies. In this paper we will focus on recent studies of regulatory mechanisms that modulate placental transport of amino acids, fatty acids, and glucose.