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Biochem J. 1981 Jan 15;194(1):273-82.

Reduction of biliverdin and placental transfer of bilirubin and biliverdin in the pregnant guinea pig.


Biliverdin was reduced to bilirubin in pregnant and foetal guinea pigs, and the 100000 g supernatant from homogenates of foetal liver, placenta and maternal liver showed high biliverdin reductase activity. The placental transport of unconjugated bilirubin and biliverdin was compared by injecting unlabelled and radiolabelled pigments into the foetal or maternal circulation and analysing blood collected from the opposite side of the placenta. Injected bilirubin crossed the placenta from foetus to mother and vice versa, but injected biliverdin did not appear to cross without prior reduction to bilirubin. The guinea-pig placenta is apparently more permeable to bilirubin than biliverdin. Reduction of biliverdin to bilirubin in the foetus may, therefore, be essential for efficient elimination of haem catabolites from the foetus in placental mammals.

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