Role of the placenta in regulation of fetal iron status


HJ McArdle, Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, University of Aberdeen, Greenburn Road, Bucksburn, Aberdeen AB21 9SB, United Kingdom. E-mail:, Phone: +1-44-1224-716628, Fax: +1-44-1224-716622.


During pregnancy, the developing fetus is entirely dependent on its mother for nutrition and waste disposal, which take place almost exclusively across the placenta. The placenta is, however, not just a passive mediator; it can also regulate the rates and amounts of nutrient transported. This is particularly true for iron transport. This review examines how the fetus, and not the mother, regulates iron uptake and transfer across the placenta, how these processes interact, and how the fetus can modulate iron metabolism in the mother.