Human placental vitamin B6 (pyridoxal) transport: Normal characteristics and effects of ethanol

S. Schenker, R. F. Johnson, J. D. Mahuren, G. I. Henderson, S. P. Coburn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


The aims of this study were to define normal human placental transport of pyridoxal, an important form of vitamin B6 in pregnancy, and to determine the effect of short-term alcohol on this process. Our studies used the isolated single cotyledon from the term placenta. Pyridoxal crossed the human placenta readily in both directions, but the transfer was a little less than half that of antipyrine and was significantly greater in the direction of the fetus. Pyridoxine appeared to have a similar clearance from the maternal compartment as pyridoxal, but transport of intact pyridoxal 5'-phosphate was much smaller. There was no saturable transfer of pyridoxal, and it was not transferred from the maternal to fetal compartments against a concentration gradient. Placental concentration of pyridoxal exceeded both maternal and fetal perfusate pyridoxal concentrations, but this concentration was equal for both perfusion directions. These composite data are most suggestive of passive transport of pyridoxal across the placenta, binding of the vitamin in the placenta as an explanation for its concentration there, and greater phosphorylation of pyridoxal in the placenta when the compound is transferred in the fetal direction, possibly displacing pyridoxal from its binding sites and permitting its greater release into the fetal compartment. Alcohol, 400- 250 mg/dl over 2.5 h, inhibited the transport of pyridoxal from the maternal to fetal compartments by ~42% (P = 0.03) and resulted in a lower transfer of pyridoxal 5'-phosphate into the fetal perfusate (P = 0.02).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R966-R974
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number6 31-6
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • alcohol
  • fetal alcohol syndrome
  • fetal nutrition
  • pyridoxal 5'-phosphate
  • pyridoxine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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