Diffusion permeability of cyanocobalamin in human placenta

D. M. Willis, J. P. O'Grady, J. J. Faber, K. L. Thornburg

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49 Scopus citations


The molecular weight of cyanocobalamin is well suited to distinguish the two patterns of size discrimination found in the hemochorial and epitheliochorial placentas. The concentrations of cyanocobalamin that were used ensured that nondiffusional transport was negligible, and experiments on guinea pigs confirmed that the diffusion permeabilities measured with cyanocobalamin were the same as those expected for inert hydrophilic substances of similar molecular weight. All human studies were performed on volunteers who were scheduled for elective cesarean section under spinal or epidural anesthesia. Endogenous plasma concentrations of cobalamin were measured in 10 pregnant volunteers and their newborns. Ten additional volunteers were given 1 mg of cyanocobalamin by intramuscular injection 44 min before delivery. Placental permeability, calculated as the ratio of fetal uptake and the concentration-time integral between maternal and fetal plasmas, was 14.3 μl · min-1 · g placental wt-1. The permeability of the human placenta parallels that of the histologically similar guinea pig placenta, at a slightly higher level, up to molecular weights of 1,355.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R459-R464
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number3 (19/3)
StatePublished - 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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