Real-time microscopic assessment of fatty acid uptake kinetics in the human term placenta

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8 Scopus citations


Introduction: The placenta employs an efficient and selective fatty acid transport system to supply lipids for fetal development. Disruptions in placental fatty acid transport lead to restricted fetal growth along with cardiovascular and neurologic deficits. Nevertheless, little is known about the molecular mechanisms involved in human placental fatty acid trafficking during the initial steps of uptake, or the importance of fatty acid chain length in determining uptake rates. Methods: We employed BODIPY fluorophore conjugated fatty acid analogues of three chain lengths, medium (BODIPY-C5), long (BODIPY-C12), and very-long (BODIPY-C16), to study fatty acid uptake in isolated human trophoblast and explants using confocal microscopy. The three BODIPY-labeled fatty acids were added to freshly isolated explants and tracked for up to 30 min. Fatty acid uptake kinetics were quantified in trophoblast (cytotrophoblast and syncytiotrophoblast together) and the fetal capillary lumen. Results: Long- (BODIPY-C12) and Very long-chain (BODIPY-C16) fatty acids accumulated more rapidly in the trophoblast layer than did medium-chain (BODIPY-C5) whereas BODIPY-C5 accumulated more rapidly in the fetal capillary than did the longer chain length fatty acids. The long-chain fatty acids, BODIPY-C12 and BODIPY-C16, are esterified and stored in lipid droplets in the cytotrophoblast layer, but medium-chain fatty acid, BODIPY-C5, is not. Discussion: Fatty acids accumulate in trophoblast and fetal capillaries inversely according to their chain length. BODIPY-C5 accumulates in the fetal capillary in concentrations far greater than in the trophoblast, suggesting that medium-chain length BODIPY-labeled fatty acids are capable of being transported against a concentration gradient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Dec 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Developmental Biology


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