Glycine uptake by microvillous and basal plasma membrane vesicles from term human placentae

Jeffrey M. Dicke, Deborah Verges, Lucky K. Kelley, Carl H. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Like most amino acids, glycine is present in higher concentrations in the fetus than in the mother. Unlike most amino acids, animal studies suggest fetal concentrations of glycine are minimally in excess of those required for protein synthesis. Abnormal glycine utilization has also been demonstrated in small-for-gestational age human fetuses. The mechanism(s) of glycine uptake in the human placenta are unknown. In other mammalian cells glycine is a substrate for the A, ASC and Gly amino acid transport systems. In this study human placental glycine uptake was characterized using microvillous and basal plasma membrane vesicles each prepared from the same placenta. In both membranes glycine uptake was mediated predominantly by the sodium-dependent A system. Competitive inhibition studies suggest that in microvillous vesicles the small percentage of sodium-dependent glycine uptake not inhibited by methylaminoisobutyric acid (MeAIB) shares a transport system with glycine methyl ester and sarcosine, substrates of the Gly system in other tissues. In addition there are mediated sodium-independent and non-selective transport mechanisms in both plasma membranes. If fetal glycine availability is primarily contingent upon the common and highly regulated A system, glycine must compete with many other substrates potentially resulting in marginal fetal reserves, abnormal utilization and impaired growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-92
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1993


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