BCRP/ABCG2 in the placenta: expression, function and regulation

Pharm Res. 2008 Jun;25(6):1244-55. doi: 10.1007/s11095-008-9537-z.


Knowledge concerning transport of maternally administered drugs across the placental barrier is essential for determining potential toxicity of drugs to the fetus and the value of drug therapy during pregnancy. An important determinant for fetal drug exposure is the expression of efflux transporters in the placenta. Among human tissues, the ATP-binding cassette efflux transporter BCRP (gene symbol ABCG2) is most abundantly expressed in the apical membrane of placental syncytiotrophoblasts. Although the precise physiological role of BCRP in the placenta is still unclear, existing data strongly suggest that BCRP plays an important role in protecting the fetus against the potential toxicity of drugs, xenobiotics, and metabolites by expelling them across the placental barrier. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge with respect to the expression, function, and polymorphisms of BCRP, as well as transcriptional and posttranscriptional regulation of the transporter in the placenta. Finally, clinical significance of BCRP in the placenta for drug therapy in pregnant women is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily G, Member 2
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / analysis
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / genetics
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / physiology*
  • Biological Transport
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Proteins / analysis
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins / physiology*
  • Placenta / chemistry*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Pregnancy


  • ABCG2 protein, human
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily G, Member 2
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Neoplasm Proteins