The effects of cocaine on neutral amino acid uptake by human placental basal membrane vesicles

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Prior studies have demonstrated that cocaine binds to human placental microvillous membrane vesicles at a single high-affinity site and that both 10 and 500 nmol/L cocaine inhibit sodium-dependent alanine uptake. The purpose of this study was to characterize cocaine binding to human placental basal plasma membrane and to determine the effects of cocaine on basal vesicle uptake of alanine and leucine. STUDY DESIGN: Basal vesicles were isolated from the placentas of uncomplicated human pregnancies with no history of cocaine use. The binding of tritiated cocaine to basal vesicle membrane and the uptakes of tritiated cocaine, alanine, and leucine were determined with filtration assays. Alanine and leucine uptakes were measured in the presence and absence of sodium and 10 and 500 nmol/L cocaine. Cocaine binding was characterized with Scatchard analyses, and uptakes were compared by means of Student t tests. RESULTS: Tritiated cocaine bound to basal membrane at two separate high-affinity sites. Sodium-dependent alanine uptake was significantly inhibited only by 500 nmol/L cocaine. Sodium-independent amino acid uptake was unaffected by cocaine. CONCLUSION: Cocaine may interfere with fetal growth by impairing the activity of sodium-dependent amino acid transporters in both the microvillous and basal membrane. These membranes may be differentially sensitive to the effects of cocaine on such transporters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-491
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1994


  • Cocaine
  • amino acids
  • fetal growth
  • placenta


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