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Placenta. 2009 Aug;30(8):659-69. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2009.06.002. Epub 2009 Jul 14.

Placental chloride channels: a review.

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Laboratorio de Electrofisiología de Membranas, Programa de Fisiología y Biofísica, ICBM, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Chile, Casilla 70005, Santiago 7, Chile.


The human placental syncytiotrophoblast (hSTB) is a polarized epithelial structure, that forms the main barrier to materno-fetal exchange. The chloride (Cl(-)) channels in other epithelial tissues contribute to several functions, such as maintenance of the membrane potential, volume regulation, absorption and secretion. Additionally, the contributions of Cl(-) channels to these functions are demonstrated by certain diseases and knock-out animal models. There are multiple lines of evidence for the presence of Cl(-) channels in the hSTB, which could contribute to different placental functions. However, both the mechanism by which these channels are involved in the physiology of the placenta, and their molecular identities are still unclear. Furthermore, a correlation between altered Cl(-) channels functions and pathological pregnancies is beginning to emerge. This review summarizes recent developments on conductive placental chloride transport, and discusses its potential implications for placental physiology.

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