Placental transfer of theophylline in an in vitro closed perfusion system of human placenta isolated lobule

D. Omarini, M. M. Barzago, A. Bortolotti, G. Lucchini, F. Stellari, S. Efrati, M. Bonati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Theophylline (TH) is a methylated xanthine widely used in the treatment of asthmatic pregnant women. Because of the scant available information on the transplacental profile, the time course of TH transfer was studied by an in vitro human placental perfusion. 6 placentas were perfused with Earle's enriched bicarbonate buffer for 180 min using recirculating maternal and fetal circuits. The physiological and biochemical properties of the tissue were well maintained. TH data were compared to those of antipyrine (AP), an usual marker in placental perfusions. The disappearance of TH from the maternal circuit was studied after administration of 15 mg/l in maternal perfusate. TH appeared in the fetal circuit within 5 min. Equilibrium was achieved in both circuits. TH fetomaternal mass ratio became constant (FMM=0.45±0.01) after 80 min of perfusion and maternal to fetal clearance was 2.59±0.24 ml/min. About 16% of TH maternal dose was recovered in the tissue, while 18% appeared in fetal circulation. TH recovery was 89±9%. On the basis of our results, similar concentrations could be predicted in mother and fetus after maternal TH intake. The TH transfer profile is consistent with in vivo values reported in humans and animals at delivery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-374
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1993


  • human placenta
  • perfusion
  • pregnancy
  • Theophylline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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