Comparison of amniotic and intramembranous unidirectional permeabilities in late-gestation sheep

Elizabeth A. Adams, Min Choi Hyung, Cecilia Y. Cheung, Robert A. Brace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Objective: Amniotic fluid volume is regulated by the intrinsic modulation of intramembranous absorption. However, neither the mechanisms nor the rate-limiting barriers of this transport are known. We tested the hypothesis that the amnion is the rate-limiting barrier of intramembranous absorption by comparing unidirectional permeabilities of the amnion in vitro and the intramembranous pathway in vivo. Study design: Unidirectional permeabilities to 99mtechnetium pertechnate or [14C]inulin of fresh ovine amnion were measured in vitro in a Ussing chamber; the permeability-surface area products were calculated by the multiplication of the permeabilities by gestational age-specific amniotic surface areas. Unidirectional permeabilities of the intramembranous pathway of the 2 tracers were calculated from solute fluxes between amniotic fluid and fetal blood in chronically catheterized late-gestation fetal sheep. Statistical comparisons included t-tests, least squares regression, analysis of variance, and analysis of covariance. Results: In the isolated amnion in vitro, the ratio of permeabilities in the amniotic fluid to chorionic direction and the reverse direction was not significantly different from unity for 99mtechnetium pertechnate (1.03 ± 0.10 [SE]; n = 7) or [14C]inulin (1.10 ± 0.17; n = 7). In contrast, in the in vivo preparation, the ratio of intramembranous permeabilities outward from the amniotic fluid and the reverse direction was greater than unity for 99mtechnetium pertechnate (2.10 ± 0.34; n = 8; P = .014) and [14C]inulin (4.68 ± 1.24; n = 7; P = .025). The permeability-surface area product of 99mtechnetium pertechnate (2.18 ± 0.79 mL/min) of the isolated amnion was similar to the in vivo intramembranous permeability (n = 8) in the amniotic fluid to fetal blood direction (1.42 ± 0.34 mL/min) and greater than that in the reverse direction (0.84 ± 0.25 mL/min; P = .046). The permeability-surface area product of [14C]inulin of the amnion (0.53 ± 0.20 mL/min) was similar to intramembranous permeability (n = 7) in the amniotic fluid to fetal blood (0.68 ± 0.15 mL/min) direction and greater than that in the reverse direction (0.22 ± 0.06 mL/min; P = .0097). Conclusion: Solute transport across the ovine amnion depends on solute size and appears to be limited only by the amnion's passive diffusional properties. In vivo intramembranous transport similarly depends on solute size but is not exclusively a passive diffusional process because it is primarily unidirectional outward from the amniotic fluid. Although it is a major barrier, the amnion is not the only barrier and does not appear to be responsible for the unidirectional nature of intramembranous absorption. Thus, unidirectionality appears to be imparted by nonpassive mechanisms in non-amnion tissues, which most likely includes vesicular transport within the endothelial cells of the intramembranous microvessels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-255
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2005


  • Amniotic fluid volume
  • Intramembranous absorption
  • Permeability
  • Sheep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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