Equilibrative nucleoside transporter 1 (ENT1, SLC29A1) facilitates transfer of the antiretroviral drug abacavir across the placenta

Lukas Cerveny, Zuzana Ptackova, Martina Ceckova, Rona Karahoda, Sara Karbanova, Lucie Jiraskova, Susan L Greenwood, Jocelyn D Glazier, Frantisek Staud

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Abacavir is a preferred antiretroviral drug for preventing mother-to-child human immunodeficiency virus transmission; however, mechanisms of its placental transfer have not been satisfactorily described to date. Because abacavir is a nucleoside-derived drug, we hypothesized that the nucleoside transporters, equilibrative nucleoside transporters (ENTs, SLC29A) and/or Na+-dependent concentrative nucleoside transporters (CNTs, SLC28A), may play a role in its passage across the placenta. To test this hypothesis, we performed uptake experiments using the choriocarcinoma-derived BeWo cell line, human fresh villous fragments, and microvillous plasma membrane (MVM) vesicles. Using endogenous substrates of nucleoside transporters, [3H]-adenosine (ENTs, CNT2, and CNT3) and [3H]-thymidine (ENTs, CNT1, and CNT3), we showed significant activity of ENT1 and CNT2 in BeWo cells, whereas experiments in the villous fragments and MVM vesicles, representing a model of the apical membrane of a syncytiotrophoblast, revealed only ENT1 activity. When testing [3H]-abacavir uptakes, we showed that of the nucleoside transporters, ENT1 plays the dominant role in abacavir uptake into placental tissues, whereas contribution of Na+-dependent transport, most likely mediated by CNTs, was observed only in BeWo cells. Subsequent experiments with dually perfused rat term placentas showed that Ent1 contributes significantly to overall [3H]-abacavir placental transport. Finally, we quantified the expression of SLC29A in first- and third-trimester placentas, revealing that SLC29A1 is the dominant isoform. Neither SLC29A1 nor SLC29A2 expression changed over the course of placental development, but there was considerable interindividual variability in their expression. Therefore, drug-drug interactions and the effect of interindividual variability in placental ENT1 expression on abacavir disposition into fetal circulation should be further investigated to guarantee safe and effective abacavir-based combination therapies in pregnancy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1817-1826
Number of pages10
JournalDrug Metabolism and Disposition
Issue number11
Early online date10 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


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