The role of the placenta in iron transfer from mother to fetus and the relationship between iron status and fetal outcome

Harry J McArdle, R Danzeisen, C Fosset, Lorraine Gambling

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    23 Citations (Scopus)


    During pregnancy, iron is transferred from the mother to the fetus across the placenta. The mechanism has been extensively studied. Altered iron metabolism changes transfer, but also has other consequences. In this review, we examine how the placenta adapts to altered iron supply, both in terms of changing cytokine expression and in relation to the proteins of iron transfer. Changing iron levels alters the levels of other metals, especially copper, and we review how this is related to changing function. There are also consequences to the placenta itself, to vascularisation and other aspects of the physiology. In turn, this has effects on the fetus and we review how growth and development are modified. Finally, we examine in more detail the efflux process, how it is regulated and, especially, the putative role of the placental Cu oxidase in the efflux process. As appropriate, we draw on data from humans, from animal models and from cell culture systems to illustrate the information.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)161-7
    Number of pages7
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2003



    • Animals
    • Embryonic and Fetal Development
    • Female
    • Humans
    • Iron
    • Maternal-Fetal Exchange
    • Models, Biological
    • Placenta
    • Pregnancy

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