Review: Modelling placental amino acid transfer--from transporters to placental function.

R M Lewis, S Brooks, I P Crocker, J Glazier, M A Hanson, E D Johnstone, N Panitchob, C P Please, C P Sibley, K L Widdows, B G Sengers

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Amino acid transfer to the fetus is dependent on several different factors. While these factors can be understood in isolation, it is still not possible to predict the function of the system as a whole. In order to do this an integrated approach is required which incorporates the interactions between the different determinants of amino acid transfer. Computational modelling of amino acid transfer in the term human placenta provides a mechanism by which this integrated approach can be delivered. Such a model would be invaluable for understanding amino acid transfer in both normal and pathological pregnancies. In order to develop a computational model it is necessary to determine all the biological factors which are important contributors to net amino acid transfer and the ways in which they interact. For instance, how different classes of amino acid transporter must interact to transfer amino acids across the placenta. Mathematically, the kinetics of each type of transporter can be represented by separate equations that describe their transfer rate as a non-linear function of amino acid concentrations. These equations can then be combined in the model to predict the overall system behaviour. Testing these predictions experimentally will demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of the model, which can then be refined with increasing complexity and retested in an iterative fashion. In this way we hope to develop a functional computational model which will allow exploration of the factors that determine amino acid transfer across the placenta. This model may also allow the development of strategies to optimise placental transfer in pathologies associated with impaired amino acid transfer such as fetal growth restriction.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)S46-S51
    Volume34 Suppl
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


    • Amino acid
    • Computational modelling
    • Epithelial transport
    • Placenta
    • Systems biology


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