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Placenta. 2003 May;24(5):439-44.

Human placental trophoblast cells express alpha-tocopherol transfer protein.

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  • 1Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Department of Health Chemistry, University of Tokyo, Hongo 7-3-1, Bunkyo-ku, 113-0033 Tokyo, Japan.


Alpha-tocopherol transfer protein (alpha-TTP), a 30 kDa cytosolic protein first described to be present in the liver and important for alpha-tocopherol trafficking, plays a major role in maintaining alpha-tocopherol levels in plasma, while alpha-tocopherol is known as the major lipid-soluble antioxidant. Expression of alpha-TTP has not only been described in animal model liver, but also in diverse other tissues such as rat brain or pregnant mouse uterus, the latter finding stressing the importance of alpha-TTP for embryogenesis and foetal development. In this study, we report the identification of alpha-TTP in human liver by anti-human alpha-TTP monoclonal antibodies made in rat and the cellular localization of alpha-TTP in term human placenta. By immunohistochemistry, intense staining of alpha-TTP was seen in syncytiotrophoblast as well as in villous and invading extravillous cytotrophoblast, while basal decidual cells showed slighter, but present staining of alpha-TTP. Foetal vessel endothelium remained unstained. It is therefore suggested that alpha-TTP may play a major role in supplying alpha-tocopherol to the foetus prior to delivery and is likely involved in maintaining adequate alpha-tocopherol levels in the foetus.

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