Introduction: Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is associated with adverse fetal outcome, and it is unclear why some are severely affected while others not. The mechanisms underlying glucose transport across the placenta barrier are not completely understood.
Objective: To investigate glucose transport across an in vitro biological model of the placental barrier installed in a controlled 2-chamber flow model.
Methods: A co-culture of human trophoblast (HTR8) and endothelial cells (HUVEC) on both sides of a denuded human amniotic membrane (AM) was developed to simulate the placenta barrier using a custom designed well. The well bottom with the in vitro barrier was installed in a 2-chamber flow model in a way that the barrier separated between two independent flow circuits that simulated maternal and fetal circulations. The transport of glucose from maternal to fetal circulations was monitored over 24 hours.
Results: We successfully cultured HUVEC and HTR8 cell lines on the denuded AM. Confocal imaging confirmed that the trophoblasts and endothelial layers are separate monolayers on the opposite sides of the AM without migration of cells into the AM. Experiments of glucose transport across the AM with and without any cell cultures revealed increased resistance for AM with cultured trophoblast cells.
Conclusions: The new laboratory model of transport across the in vitro placenta barrier allows for quantitative analysis of the of trans-placental transport characteristics for glucose. This model will enable us better surveillance and outcome of pregnancies complicated with GDM.
Riki Levkovitz1, Ariel J. Jaffa2, Zoya Gordon2, David Elad1
1Department of Biomedical Engineering, Tel-Aviv University and 2Ultrasound Unit in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Lis Maternity Hospital, Tel Aviv, Israel