Insight into the pathogenesis of fetal growth restriction in placental malaria: decreased placental glucose transporter isoform 1 expression

J Infect Dis. 2014 May 15;209(10):1663-7. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jit803. Epub 2013 Dec 10.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1 / genetics
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Malaria, Falciparum / complications*
  • Placenta / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Parasitic / metabolism
  • Young Adult


  • Glucose Transporter Type 1