Creatine biosynthesis and transport by the term human placenta

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Introduction Creatine is an amino acid derivative that is involved in preserving ATP homeostasis. Previous studies suggest an important role for the creatine kinase circuit for placental ATP turnover. Creatine is obtained from both the diet and endogenous synthesis, usually along the renal-hepatic axis. However, some tissues with a high-energy demand have an inherent capacity to synthesise creatine. In this study, we determined if the term human placenta has the enzymatic machinary to synthesise creatine. Methods Eleven placentae were collected following elective term caesarean section. Samples from the 4 quadrants of each placenta were either fixed in formalin or frozen. qPCR was used to determine the mRNA expression of the creatine synthesising enzymes arginine:glycine amidinotransferase (AGAT) and guanidinoacetate methyltransferase (GAMT), and the creatine transporter (SLC6A8). Protein expression of AGAT and GAMT was quantified by Western blot, and observations of cell localisation of AGAT, GAMT and SLC6A8 made with immunohistochemistry. Synthesis of guanidinoacetate (GAA; creatine precursor) and creatine in placental homogenates was determined via GC-MS and HPLC, respectively. Results AGAT, GAMT and SLC6A8 mRNA and protein were detected in the human placenta. AGAT staining was identified in stromal and endothelial cells of the fetal capillaries. GAMT and SLC6A8 staining was localised to the syncytiotrophoblast of the fetal villi. Ex vivo, tissue homogenates produce both GAA (4.6 nmol mg protein−1h−1) and creatine (52.8 nmol mg protein−1h−1). Discussion The term human placenta has the capacity to synthesise creatine. These data present a new understanding of placental energy metabolism.




Ellery, S. J., Della Gatta, P. A., Bruce, C. R., Kowalski, G. M., Davies-Tuck, M., Mockler, J. C., … Dickinson, H. (2017). Creatine biosynthesis and transport by the term human placenta. Placenta, 52, 86–93.

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