Azidothymidine (Zidovudine) transport by the human placenta

S. Schenker, R. F. Johnson, Thomas S King, R. S. Schenken, G. I. Henderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


The diagnosis of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is increasingly made in pregnant women, and the disease may be transmitted to the fetus. Azidothymidine (AZT, Zidovudine) is the one therapeutic agent of some promise in this condition. As there is no information on the transport of this drug by the human placenta, such studies were carried out using the single cotyledon placental perfusion system and human placental vesicles. AZT crossed the placenta readily and bidirectionally. The transfer rate was about 70% that of a freely diffusible reference marker, antipyrine, and was comparable in both directions. There was no evidence of active or carrier-mediated transport and no glucuronidated metabolites of the drug were identified in either maternal or fetal compartments. The authors believe that the drug crosses the placenta by diffusion, consistent with its lipophilicity and transport into various blood cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-20
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of the Medical Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1990


  • Zidovudine
  • placenta

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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