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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Excretion of fetal biliverdin by the rat placenta-maternal liver tandem.

Fetal liver immaturity is accompanied by active heme catabolism. Thus fetal biliary pigments must be excreted toward the mother by the placenta. To investigate biliverdin handling by the placenta-maternal liver tandem, biliverdin-IXalpha was administered to 21-day pregnant rats through the jugular vein or the umbilical artery of an in situ perfused placenta. Jugular administration resulted in the secretion into maternal bile of both bilirubin and biliverdin (3:1). However, when biliverdin was administered to the placenta, most of it was transformed into bilirubin before being transferred to the maternal blood. Injecting Xenopus laevis oocytes with mRNA from rat liver or placenta enhanced their ability to take up biliverdin, which was inhibited by estradiol 17beta-d-glucuronide. The expression of three OATP isoforms in this system revealed that they have a varying degrees of ability to transport biliverdin (Oatp1/1a1 > Oatp2/1a4 > Oatp4/1b2). The abundance of their mRNA in rat trophoblast was Oatp1/1a1 >> Oatp4/1b2 > Oatp2/1a4. The expression of biliverdin-IXalpha reductase in rat placenta was detected by RT-PCR/sequencing and Western blot analysis. The relative abundance of biliverdin-IXalpha reductase mRNA (determined by real-time quantitative RT-PCR) was fetal liver > placenta > maternal liver. Common bile duct ligation in the last week of pregnancy induced an upregulation of biliverdin-IXalpha reductase in maternal liver but had no effect on fetal liver and placenta. In conclusion, several members of the OATP family may contribute to the uptake of fetal biliverdin by the rat placenta. Before being transferred to the mother, biliverdin is extensively converted into bilirubin by biliverdin-IXalpha reductase, whose expression is maintained even though bilirubin excretion into maternal bile is impaired.[1]


  1. Excretion of fetal biliverdin by the rat placenta-maternal liver tandem. Briz, O., Macias, R.I., Perez, M.J., Serrano, M.A., Marin, J.J. Am. J. Physiol. Regul. Integr. Comp. Physiol. (2006) [Pubmed]
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