Diabetes alters the expression and activity of the human placental GLUT1 glucose transporter

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1999 Feb;84(2):695-701. doi: 10.1210/jcem.84.2.5438.


This study was designed to investigate the effects of maternal diabetes on glucose transporter expression and glucose transport activity in the human placenta. Syncytiotrophoblast microvillous and basal membranes were prepared from placental tissue obtained at term from pregestational diabetics (White class B) and gestational diabetics controlled either by diet alone (class A1) or by diet and insulin (class A2). These membranes were used to measure GLUT1 glucose transporter expression and D-glucose transport activity. Diabetic groups showed no differences in placental weights or neonatal birth weights compared to controls, although 8 of 25 diabetic fetuses were macrosomic. Glycemic control in the diabetics at term, as assessed by maternal glycosylated hemoglobin, was within normal limits. Basal membrane GLUT1 density was about 2-fold higher in all diabetic groups compared to that in controls, as measured by immunoblotting, whereas no changes were found for the microvillous membranes. D-Glucose uptake across the basal membrane was increased by 40% in the diabetic groups; no changes were observed for the microvillous membrane. These results demonstrate that diabetes causes an increase in basal membrane GLUT1 expression and activity that persists despite a lack of evidence for current or recent maternal hyperglycemia. This suggests the potential for an extended increase in transplacental glucose flux in the absence of maternal hyperglycemia, which may contribute to fetal macrosomia and the other consequences of diabetic pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biological Transport
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Diabetes, Gestational / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Microvilli / metabolism
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Placenta / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Diabetics / metabolism*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins
  • SLC2A1 protein, human
  • Glucose