Review article| Volume 4, ISSUE 4, P230-237, October 1995

Review of flow limited transfer in the placenta

  • J. Job Faber
    Correspondence to J. Faber, Dept. Physiology L334 Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, OR 97201 3098, USA.
    Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, USA
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      Much of our view of the human placenta is inferred from animal experiments. Flow limited transfer is a regime of transfer in which there is complete equilibration of maternal and fetal bloods in a single pass through the placental exchange vessels. Placental exchange of non-protein bound lipid soluble materials is flow limited and the exchange of oxygen is very nearly flow limited. The relatively inefficient human placenta requires greater perfusion rates than some animal placentas do for the same rate of oxygen transfer but it offers considerable protection should one (but not both) of the placental blood flows decrease. The evolution of the placental vascular arrangement and of the difference in half saturation pressures of maternal and fetal hemoglobin point to the necessity to protect the fetus against high oxygen pressures. Wash-in and wash-out rates of non-protein bound anesthetics appear to be almost exclusively governed by the maternal and fetal placental flow rates and the distribution volume in the conceptus.
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