Placental drug transporters

Curr Drug Metab. 2004 Feb;5(1):125-31. doi: 10.2174/1389200043489171.


Any treatment of a pregnant woman with medication (drugs) de facto results in the treatment of her unborn child, even when her unborn child is not the target of drug therapy. This is because, in most instances, the placenta is not a complete barrier to the passage of drugs from the maternal to the fetal compartment. This barrier is in part due to the presence of various efflux transporters in the placenta. The placenta is also richly endowed with influx transporters. In this article, we will review the physiological characteristics of the placenta and how it functions as a barrier to passage of drugs into the fetal compartment. In addition, we will review placental transporters that are important in modulating the exposure of the fetus to drugs and, therefore, the efficacy and toxicity of such drugs towards the fetus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange / physiology
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism*
  • Pharmacokinetics*
  • Placenta / metabolism
  • Placenta / physiology*
  • Pregnancy


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations