Role of Transporters for Organic Cations in Plants for Environmental Cycling of Pharmaceutical Residues

  • Trine EggenEmail author
  • Cathrine Lillo


Pharmaceuticals, designed to be biologically active compounds, are widely spread in the environment and now considered as ‘pseudo-persistent’ substances. Plant uptake experiments have shown that the antidiabetic 2 pharmaceutical metformin can accumulate in oily seeds of rape, and that the metformin concentration is 60–70 times higher than in seeds of wheat. The mechanisms for uptake, translocation and accumulation of metformin in plants are not known. However, organic cation transporters (OCTs) actively transport metformin in mammals, and orthologues of OCTs are present in plants. Metformin has structural similarities with natural plant secondary compounds guanylurea and biguanide, which are present in medicinal plants historically known to be used against symptoms possibly caused by diabetes. It is therefore not unlikely that OCTs might be involved in active uptake of metformin in plants. Due to the large number of pharmaceuticals present in the environment, it is important to understand the uptake and translocation mechanisms involved that can lead to accumulation of biological active compounds in feed and food.


Arabidopsis OCT Bioaccumulation Metformin Medicines Drugs Nitrogen reallocation 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, NIBIOKlepp StNorway
  2. 2.Faculty of Science and Technology, Centre for Organelle Research (CORE)University of StavangerStavangerNorway

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