Pharmaceutical Research

, Volume 33, Issue 12, pp 2847–2878 | Cite as

Placental ABC Transporters: Biological Impact and Pharmaceutical Significance

  • Anand A. Joshi
  • Soniya S. Vaidya
  • Marie V. St-Pierre
  • Andrei M. Mikheev
  • Kelly E. Desino
  • Abner N. Nyandege
  • Kenneth L. Audus
  • Jashvant D. Unadkat
  • Phillip M. Gerk
Expert Review


The human placenta fulfills a variety of essential functions during prenatal life. Several ABC transporters are expressed in the human placenta, where they play a role in the transport of endogenous compounds and may protect the fetus from exogenous compounds such as therapeutic agents, drugs of abuse, and other xenobiotics. To date, considerable progress has been made toward understanding ABC transporters in the placenta. Recent studies on the expression and functional activities are discussed. This review discusses the placental expression and functional roles of several members of ABC transporter subfamilies B, C, and G including MDR1/P-glycoprotein, the MRPs, and BCRP, respectively. Since placental ABC transporters modulate fetal exposure to various compounds, an understanding of their functional and regulatory mechanisms will lead to more optimal medication use when necessary in pregnancy.


breast cancer resistance protein drug transport multidrug resistance-associated protein P-glycoprotein placenta regulation of expression 



ATP binding cassette


Antiphospholipid syndrome


Blood–brain barrier


Breast cancer resistance protein


Bisphenol A


Bile salt export pump


Constitutive androstane receptor






Estrogen receptor


Food and Drug Administration


Glutathione disulfide


High density lipoprotein cholesterol


Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy






Low density lipoprotein


Oxidized LDL receptor-1




Liver X receptor


Madin-Darby canine kidney


Multidrug resistance protein


Multidrug resistance associated proteins




Nucleotide binding domain


Na+-taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide


Organic anion transporting polypeptides


Oxidized low density lipoprotein


Polymerase chain reaction


Positron emission tomography


Prostaglandin E2




2-amino-1- methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine




Peroxisome proliferator-activator receptor γ


Progesterone receptor


Pregnane X receptor


Small for gestational age


Transmembrane domains


Tumor necrosis factor-α



The authors gratefully acknowledge the following sources of support: The Thomas F. and Kate Miller Jeffress Memorial Trust, the VCU School of Pharmacy, the National Institutes of Health (MD002254), VCU Presidential Research Incentive Program and grant P01DA032507 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anand A. Joshi
    • 1
  • Soniya S. Vaidya
    • 1
    • 2
  • Marie V. St-Pierre
    • 3
  • Andrei M. Mikheev
    • 4
    • 5
  • Kelly E. Desino
    • 6
    • 7
  • Abner N. Nyandege
    • 1
  • Kenneth L. Audus
    • 6
  • Jashvant D. Unadkat
    • 4
  • Phillip M. Gerk
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PharmaceuticsVirginia Commonwealth University School of PharmacyRichmondUSA
  2. 2.Novartis Institutes of Biomedical ResearchCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Department of Clinical Pharmacology and ToxicologyUniversity of Zurich HospitalZurichSwitzerland
  4. 4.Department of PharmaceuticsUniversity of Washington School of PharmacySeattleUSA
  5. 5.Department of Neurosurgery, Institute of Stem Cell and Regenerative MedicineUniversity of Washington School of MedicineSeattleUSA
  6. 6.Department of Pharmaceutical ChemistryUniversity of Kansas School of PharmacyLawrenceUSA
  7. 7.Abbvie IncNorth ChicagoUSA

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