Differences and Interactions in Placental Manganese and Iron Transfer across an In Vitro Model of Human Villous Trophoblasts

Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Mar 18;23(6):3296. doi: 10.3390/ijms23063296.


Manganese (Mn) as well as iron (Fe) are essential trace elements (TE) important for the maintenance of physiological functions including fetal development. However, in the case of Mn, evidence suggests that excess levels of intrauterine Mn are associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes. Although Mn is known to cross the placenta, the fundamentals of Mn transfer kinetics and mechanisms are largely unknown. Moreover, exposure to combinations of TEs should be considered in mechanistic transfer studies, in particular for TEs expected to share similar transfer pathways. Here, we performed a mechanistic in vitro study on the placental transfer of Mn across a BeWo b30 trophoblast layer. Our data revealed distinct differences in the placental transfer of Mn and Fe. While placental permeability to Fe showed a clear inverse dose-dependency, Mn transfer was largely independent of the applied doses. Concurrent exposure of Mn and Fe revealed transfer interactions of Fe and Mn, indicating that they share common transfer mechanisms. In general, mRNA and protein expression of discussed transporters like DMT1, TfR, or FPN were only marginally altered in BeWo cells despite the different exposure scenarios highlighting that Mn transfer across the trophoblast layer likely involves a combination of active and passive transport processes.

Keywords: BeWo b30 trophoblasts; TE interactions; iron; manganese; placental transfer.

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Manganese* / metabolism
  • Placenta / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Trophoblasts* / metabolism


  • Manganese
  • Iron