Glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) protein expression was characterized in human and rodent term placentas. A 50-kDa protein was detected, by immunoblotting, in term human placenta at levels averaging 25% of those found in white adipose tissue. It was also present, albeit at lower levels, in mouse and rat placentas. The specificity of the 50-kDa signal was established by using skeletal muscle and placental tissues obtained from GLUT4-null mice as controls. Indirect immunohistochemistry, performed in human placentas, showed that intravillous stromal cells were conspicuously labeled by GLUT4 and revealed colocalization of GLUT4 transporters with insulin receptors. This study provides the first evidence that the insulinresponsive GLUT4 glucose transporter is present in human and rodent hemochorial placentas. Placental GLUT4 gene and protein levels were not modified in human pregnancy complicated by insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. The significance of the high level of GLUT4 protein in human placenta remains to be elucidated, because, so far, this organ was not considered to be insulin-sensitive, with regard to glucose transport.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biochemistry, medical