Fetus Exposure to Drugs and Chemicals: A Holistic Overview on the Assessment of Their Transport and Metabolism across the Human Placental Barrier

Ioly Kotta-Loizou, Agathi Pritsa, Georgios Antasouras, Spyridon N. Vasilopoulos, Gavriela Voulgaridou, Sousana K. Papadopoulou, Robert H. A. Coutts, Eleftherios Lechouritis, Constantinos Giaginis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The placenta exerts a crucial role in fetus growth and development during gestation, protecting the fetus from maternal drugs and chemical exposure. However, diverse drugs and chemicals (xenobiotics) can penetrate the maternal placental barrier, leading to deleterious, adverse effects concerning fetus health. Moreover, placental enzymes can metabolize drugs and chemicals into more toxic compounds for the fetus. Thus, evaluating the molecular mechanisms through which drugs and chemicals transfer and undergo metabolism across the placental barrier is of vital importance. In this aspect, this comprehensive literature review aims to provide a holistic approach by critically summarizing and scrutinizing the potential molecular processes and mechanisms governing drugs and chemical transfer and metabolism across the placental barrier, which may lead to fetotoxicity effects, as well as analyzing the currently available experimental methodologies used to assess xenobiotics placental transfer and metabolism. Methods: A comprehensive and in-depth literature review was conducted in the most accurate scientific databases such as PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science by using relevant and effective keywords related to xenobiotic placental transfer and metabolism, retrieving 8830 published articles until 5 February 2024. After applying several strict exclusion and inclusion criteria, a final number of 148 relevant published articles were included. Results: During pregnancy, several drugs and chemicals can be transferred from the mother to the fetus across the placental barrier by either passive diffusion or through placental transporters, resulting in fetus exposure and potential fetotoxicity effects. Some drugs and chemicals also appear to be metabolized across the placental barrier, leading to more toxic products for both the mother and the fetus. At present, there is increasing research development of diverse experimental methodologies to determine the potential molecular processes and mechanisms of drug and chemical placental transfer and metabolism. All the currently available methodologies have specific strengths and limitations, highlighting the strong demand to utilize an efficient combination of them to obtain reliable evidence concerning drug and chemical transfer and metabolism across the placental barrier. To derive the most consistent and safe evidence, in vitro studies, ex vivo perfusion methods, and in vivo animal and human studies can be applied together with the final aim to minimize potential fetotoxicity effects. Conclusions: Research is being increasingly carried out to obtain an accurate and safe evaluation of drug and chemical transport and metabolism across the placental barrier, applying a combination of advanced techniques to avoid potential fetotoxic effects. The improvement of the currently available techniques and the development of novel experimental protocols and methodologies are of major importance to protect both the mother and the fetus from xenobiotic exposure, as well as to minimize potential fetotoxicity effects.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12060114
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalDiseases
Volume12
Issue number6
Early online date1 Jun 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Jun 2024

Keywords

  • passive diffusion
  • ex vivo perfusion
  • active transport
  • in vitro studies
  • fetotoxicity
  • placental analysis
  • placental metabolomics
  • metabolism
  • placental barrier
  • in vivo animal studies

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Fetus Exposure to Drugs and Chemicals: A Holistic Overview on the Assessment of Their Transport and Metabolism across the Human Placental Barrier'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this