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J Theor Biol. 2010 Apr 7;263(3):295-302. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2009.12.010. Epub 2009 Dec 16.

Glucose transport from mother to fetus--a theoretical study.

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Bar-Code Computers Ltd., POB 2065, Tirat-Carmel 39120, Israel.


The factors that affect and govern the glucose transfer from maternal blood to the fetus are not completely deciphered. We present a steady state, one dimensional mathematical simulation which integrates the main mechanisms that have been shown to exist: metabolic consumption of the placenta, simple and facilitated diffusion via the two membranes of the microvillous and simple diffusion within the placenta. The model uses all available physiologic data we could collect. Numerical results indicate that the most crucial factor in determining the fetal glucose concentration is the facilitated diffusion process at the basal membrane or, more specifically: the permeability of the basal membrane and the density of the transporter GLUT1 on its faces. The gradient between the maternal and the fetal glucose concentration is important as is the metabolic consumption of the placenta. The diffusion within the placenta and the conditions that prevail at the apical microvillous plasma membrane are much less significant. Intrasyncytial concentration of glucose is close to that of maternal blood. The adjustment of the fetal glucose concentration to abrupt changes of its surrounding is estimated to be quite rapid hence for all practical purposes this steady state model can serve as a reasonable approximation. Parameters that await experimental determination are identified.

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