Functional differences in steroid sulfate uptake of organic anion transporter 4 (OAT4) and organic anion transporting polypeptide 2B1 (OATP2B1) in human placenta

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2008 Jul;111(1-2):1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2008.04.001. Epub 2008 Apr 11.


Human trophoblasts depend on the supply of external precursors such as dehydroepiandrosterone-3-sulfate (DHEA-S) and 16alpha-OH-DHEA-S for synthesis of estrogens. Recently, we have characterized the uptake of DHEA-S by isolated mononucleated trophoblasts and identified different transporter polypeptides involved in this process. Immunohistochemistry of 1st and 3rd trimester placenta detected organic anion transporter 4 (OAT4) and organic anion transporting polypeptide 2B1 (OATP2B1, former name OATP-B) in cytotrophoblast membranes and at the basal surface of the syncytiotrophoblast, indicating that both transporter polypeptides are involved in placental uptake of foetal derived steroid sulfates. In the present study we have characterized and compared the kinetics of DHEA-S and estrone sulfate (E(1)S) uptake by these transporters stably expressed in FlpIn -HEK293 cells using the Flp recombinase-mediated site-specific recombination. Uptake of E(1)S by OAT4- and OATP2B1-transfected cells was highly increased compared to the non-transfected cells. In contrast, DHEA-S uptake was only highly increased in OAT4 (40 times), but only weakly enhanced in OATP2B1 cells. The uptake of DHEA-S and E(1)S by OAT4 was partly Na(+)-dependent (about 50%), whereas uptake of DHEA-S by OATP2B1 was Na(+)-independent. Kinetic analysis of the initial uptake rates of E(1)S by OAT4 and OATP2B1 gave very similar values for K(m) (about 20microM) and V(max) (about 600pmol/(minxmg protein)). In contrast, the affinity of DHEA-S towards OATP2B1 was about 10 times lower (K(m)>200microM) then for OAT4 (K(m)=29microM). Our results suggest different physiological roles of the two transporter polypeptides in placental uptake of foetal derived steroid sulfates. OATP2B1 seems not to be involved in de novo synthesis of placental estrogens but may contribute to the clearance of estrogen sulfates from foetal circulation.

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • Cell Line
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate / pharmacokinetics
  • Estrone / analogs & derivatives
  • Estrone / pharmacokinetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney / cytology
  • Models, Biological
  • Organic Anion Transporters / genetics*
  • Organic Anion Transporters / metabolism*
  • Organic Anion Transporters, Sodium-Independent / genetics*
  • Organic Anion Transporters, Sodium-Independent / metabolism*
  • Placenta / metabolism*
  • Transfection
  • Tritium
  • Trophoblasts / metabolism


  • Organic Anion Transporters
  • Organic Anion Transporters, Sodium-Independent
  • SLC22A9 protein, human
  • SLCO2B1 protein, human
  • Tritium
  • Estrone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate
  • estrone sulfate