Differential transplacental binding of diazepam: Causes and implications

M. J. Ridd, K. F. Brown, R. L. Nation, C. B. Collier

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Diazepam plasma binding was determined in 17 matched pairs of maternal and foetal plasma, collected at delivery. Diazepam % free was higher (p<0.001) in maternal (mean 3.24%) than in either umbilical venous (mean 1.50%) or umbilical arterial (mean 1.24%) plasma. The data from in vitro dialysis studies were consistent with the reported higher diazepam concentrations in infants than in mothers at delivery. Plasma nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA) concentrations were higher (p<0.001) in maternal (x = 643 μM) than in matched umbilical venous plasma (x = 211 μM) and there was a significant correlation (p<0.01) between diazepam % free and corresponding plasma NEFA concentration for pooled data (r=0.871, n=34). Multiple and partial regression analysis indicates that transplacental differences in albumin, bilirubin and total protein concentrations made a minimal contribution to diazepam binding differences between mother and foetus and that approximately 76% of the variability in diazepam % free was accounted for by plasma NEFA concentration. The binding of diazepam to human serum albumin (HSA) was markedly perturbed by the presence of NEFA but not by bilirubin and there was no apparent cooperativity between bilirubin and NEFA on diazepam-HSA binding. Moreover, our findings provide further evidence that substantial differences in binding affinities exist between foetal and maternal plasma albumins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595-601
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 1983


  • diazepam
  • fatty acid binding
  • matched maternal and foetal plasma
  • plasma albumins
  • plasma bilirubin
  • plasma NEFA concentration

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