Transport of cholesterol across a BeWo cell monolayer: Implications for net transport of sterol from maternal to fetal circulation

Kara E. Schmid, W. Sean Davidson, Leslie Myatt, Laura A. Woollett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

48 Scopus citations


The placental transport of various compounds, such as glucose and fatty acids, has been well studied. However, the transport of cholesterol, a sterol essential for proper fetal development, remains undefined in the placenta. Therefore, the purpose of these studies was to examine the transport of cholesterol across a placental monolayer and its uptake by various cholesterol acceptors. BeWo cells, which originated from a human choriocarcinoma, were grown on transwells for 3 days to form a confluent monolayer. The apical side of the cells was radiolabeled with either free cholesterol or LDL cholesteryl ester. After 24 h, the radiolabel was removed and cholesterol acceptors were added to the basolateral chamber. Cholesterol was found to be taken up by the apical surface of the placental monolayer, transported to the basolateral surface of the cell, and effluxed to fetal human serum, fetal HDL, or phospholipid vesicles, but not to apolipoprotein A-I. In addition, increasing the cellular cholesterol concentration further increased the amount of cholesterol transported to the basolateral acceptors. These are the first studies to demonstrate the movement of cholesterol across a placental cell from the maternal circulation (apical side) to the fetal circulation (basolateral side).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1909-1918
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of lipid research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2003



  • Cholesterol efflux
  • Fetus
  • Low density lipoprotein
  • Placenta
  • Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Cell Biology

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