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Placenta. 1980 Jan-Mar;1(1):33-46.

Immunological studies of transferrin and transferrin receptors of human placental trophoblast.


In primate pregnancy, fetal iron is derived from maternal transferrin; however, the mechanisms by which iron is taken up by the human placenta have not yet been established. In the present study, transferrin was demonstrated on the microvillous surface of human trophoblast in immunohistological studies of 130 mature and immature placentae from both normal and abnormal pregnancies. Similar results were found for baboon placentae. Upon short-term culture of placental tissue, the amount of trophoblast transferrin decreased and no incorporation of 14C lysine into transferrin could be detected by radioimmunoelectrophoresis. Thus this transferrin apparently was not synthesized by the placenta. When transferrin was removed from cryostat sections of placenta by treatment with chaotropic agents, subsequently added transferrin bound in an identical distribution. The specificity of this reaction was confirmed by the lack of binding of other serum proteins and by displacement procedures in which trophoblast transferrin was shown to be dislodged by transferrin added in vitro. These findings suggest that placental iron transport is predicated by binding of transferrin to specific receptors on trophoblast.

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