Cocaine inhibits alanine uptake by human placental microvillous membrane vesicles

Jeffrey M. Dicke, Deborah K. Verges, Kenneth L. Polakoski

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19 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to determine the effects of cocaine on alanine uptake by human placental microvillous membrane vesicles and to characterize cocaine binding to the microvillous membrane. STUDY DESIGN: Microvillous vesicles were isolated from the placentas of 10 human pregnancies with no history of cocaine use. The binding of tritiated cocaine to microvillous vesicle membrane and uptake of tritiated cocaine and tritiated alanine were determined with the use of filtration assays. Scatchard analyses were used to characterize cocaine binding. Sodium-independent and sodium-dependent uptake of tritiated alanine was measured in the presence and absence of (-)cocaine and its stereoisomer (+)cocaine. Uptakes were compared with the use of Student t tests. RESULTS: Specific tritiated cocaine binding accounted for approximately 96% of total binding at a single-component high-affinity site in the microvillous membrane. The mediated sodium-dependent component of alanine uptake was significantly (p < 0.01) reduced in the presence of (-)cocaine but was unaffected by (+)cocaine. CONCLUSION: Cocaine may contribute to fetal growth restriction by interfering with the normal activity of placental amino acid transporters necessary to maintain the nutrient gradients associated with normal fetal growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-521
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1993


  • Cocaine
  • amino acids
  • fetal growth
  • placenta


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