Organic Cation Transporter 3 Facilitates Fetal Exposure to Metformin during Pregnancy.

Article Details


Lee N, Hebert MF, Wagner DJ, Easterling TR, Liang CJ, Rice K, Wang J

Organic Cation Transporter 3 Facilitates Fetal Exposure to Metformin during Pregnancy.

Mol Pharmacol. 2018 Oct;94(4):1125-1131. doi: 10.1124/mol.118.112482. Epub 2018 Jul 16.

PubMed ID
30012584 [ View in PubMed

Metformin, an oral antihyperglycemic, is increasingly being prescribed to pregnant women with gestational diabetes. Metformin is a hydrophilic cation and relies on organic cation transporters to move across cell membranes. We previously demonstrated that human and mouse placentas predominantly express organic cation transporter 3 (OCT3), but the impact of this transporter on maternal and fetal disposition of metformin is unknown. Using immunofluorescence colocalization studies in term human placenta, we showed that OCT3 is localized to the basal (fetal-facing) membrane of syncytiotrophoblast cells with no expression on the apical (maternal-facing) membrane. OCT3 positive staining was also observed in fetal capillaries. To determine the in vivo role of OCT3 in maternal and fetal disposition of metformin, we determined metformin maternal pharmacokinetics and overall fetal exposure in wild-type and Oct3-null pregnant mice. After oral dosing of [(14)C]metformin at gestational day 19, the systemic drug exposure (AUC0-infinity) in maternal plasma was slightly reduced by approximately 16% in the Oct3(-/-) pregnant mice. In contrast, overall fetal AUC0-infinity was reduced by 47% in the Oct3(-/-) pregnant mice. Consistent with our previous findings in nonpregnant mice, metformin tissue distribution was respectively reduced by 70% and 52% in the salivary glands and heart in Oct3(-/-) pregnant mice. Our in vivo data in mice clearly demonstrated a significant role of Oct3 in facilitating metformin fetal distribution and exposure during pregnancy. Modulation of placental OCT3 expression or activity by gestational age, genetic polymorphism, or pharmacological inhibitors may alter fetal exposure to metformin or other drugs transported by OCT3.

DrugBank Data that Cites this Article

Drug Transporters
DrugTransporterKindOrganismPharmacological ActionActions
MetforminSolute carrier family 22 member 3ProteinHumans