Placental malaria, especially when complicated with intervillositis, can cause fetal growth restriction. Transplacental glucose transport by glucose transporter isoform 1 (GLUT-1) on the syncytiotrophoblast microvillous and basal plasma membranes regulates fetal growth. We found that GLUT-1 expression in the microvillous plasma membrane of Plasmodium falciparum-negative placenta biopsy specimens was comparable to that in P. falciparum-positive placenta biopsy specimens with or without intervillositis, whereas GLUT-1 expression in the basal plasma membrane was lowest in P. falciparum-positive placenta biopsy specimens with intervillositis, compared with the other 2 specimen types (P ≤ .0016). GLUT-1 expression in the basal plasma membrane also correlated negatively with monocyte infiltrate density (r = -0.43; P = .003) and positively with birth weight (r = 0.28; P = .06). These findings suggest that intervillositis, more than placental malaria per se, might cause fetal growth restriction, through impaired transplacental glucose transport.
Keywords: GLUT-1; Plasmodium falciparum; fetal growth restriction; glucose transport; intervillositis; malaria; monocytes; pregnancy; syncytiotrophoblast.