Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology

Contact Information


Erik Rytting, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor



  • B.S., Chemical Engineering, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 

  • Ph.D., Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas


  • Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
  • Center for Biomedical Engineering
  • Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology

Research Interests

Dr. Rytting's research lab is working to develop improved drug delivery strategies, with special emphasis on drug and nanoparticle transport across the placenta in order to address the needs of pregnant women requiring medical therapy or diagnostics, and to answer questions regarding the safety of medication during pregnancy in relation to fetal development.

Maintenance of the mother's health promotes successful pregnancy outcomes, and this may require pharmacologic therapy for pregnant women with asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, HIV, or other illnesses.  For a small but significant percentage of women, cancer is discovered during pregnancy, which presents a special challenge to adequately treat the cancer and simultaneously protect the baby's growth within the womb.  In some instances, fetal therapy is required to treat conditions such as fetal arrhythmias or congenital adrenal hyperplasia; these cases may require drug delivery to the fetus while trying to reduce unwanted side effects in the mother.

We are part of UTMB’s Maternal-Fetal Pharmacology and Biodevelopment Laboratories.  In our lab, we carry out placental drug transport studies with in vitro and ex vivo methods modeling the maternal-fetal barrier, including cell culture models of the human placental trophoblast cell layer and the dually-perfused human placental lobule.  Although most drugs cross the placenta to some extent, the transport of certain substances may be reduced by efflux proteins, and placental enzymes will convert some drugs to metabolites with altered or no activity. These experiments provide us with information regarding the expected fetal exposure to drugs or other substances.  As we better understand these biochemical mechanisms and analyze the pharmacokinetics of drugs administered during pregnancy, not only will we assist doctors and patients in making informed decisions regarding therapy options, but we will also be able to expand the options and strategies available by developing safer and more effective treatments.

Nanoparticles offer several advantages for drug delivery, including improved bioavailability, protection of therapeutic payload, controlled release, and targeted drug delivery.  The enhanced permeability and retention effect describes the extravasation and accumulation of nanoparticles near tumors, and we are investigating nanoparticle surface modifications to improve drug targeting.  Understanding pharmacokinetic models relating to nanotechnology and maternal-fetal exchange will also help us to answer questions relating to safety and improved therapy during pregnancy. 

Dr. Rytting conducted postdoctoral research to develop biocompatible nanoparticles for controlled drug delivery in the Department of Pharmaceutical Technology & Biopharmacy at Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany.  He also received training in human placental perfusion techniques in the Institute of Public Health at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Other research projects have included in silico modeling to predict drug solubility, pharmacokinetic data analysis, nanotoxicology (safety assessment of nanomaterials), and the use of molecular biology techniques, hypoxia, and fluorescence to characterize the expression and function of drug transporter proteins in the placenta.


  Selected Publications


·        Mørck, T.J., Sorda, G., Bechi, N., Rasmussen, B.S., Nielsen, J.B., Ietta, F., Rytting, E., Mathiesen, L., Paulesu, L.R., and Knudsen, L.E.  Placental Transport and in vitro effects of Bisphenol A.  Reproductive Toxicology 29 (2010).

·        Rytting, E., Bur, M., Cartier, R., Bouyssou, T., Wang, X., Krüger, M., Lehr, C.-M., and Kissel, T. In vitro and in vivo performance of biocompatible negatively-charged salbutamol-loaded nanoparticles. Journal of Controlled Release 141 (2010) 101-107.  

·        Poulsen, M.S., Rytting, E., Mose, T., and Knudsen, L.E. Modeling Placental Transport:  Correlation of in vitro BeWo Cell Permeability and ex vivo Human Placental Perfusion. Toxicology in Vitro 23 (2009) 1380-1386.

·        Mathiesen, L., Rytting, E., Mose, T., and Knudsen, L.E. Transport of Benzo[a]pyrene in the Dually Perfused Human Placenta Perfusion Model: Effect of Albumin in the Perfusion Medium. Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology 105 (2009) 181-187.

·        Rytting, E., Nguyen, J., Wang, X., and Kissel, T. Biodegradable Polymeric Nanocarriers for Pulmonary Drug Delivery. Expert Opinion on Drug Delivery 5 (2008) 629-639.

·        Cai, C., Bakowsky, U., Rytting, E., Schaper, A.K., and Kissel, T. Charged Nanoparticles as Protein Delivery Systems: A Feasibility Study Using Lysozyme as Model Protein. European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics 69 (2008) 31-42.

·        Rytting, E. and Audus, K.L. Contributions of Phosphorylation to Regulation of OCTN2 Uptake of Carnitine are Minimal in BeWo Cells. Biochemical Pharmacology 75 (2008) 745-751.

·        Rytting, E., Bryan, J., Southard, M., and Audus, K.L. Low-affinity Uptake of the Fluorescent Organic Cation 4-(4-(dimethylamino)styryl)-N-methylpyridinium iodide (4-Di-1-ASP) in BeWo Cells. Biochemical Pharmacology 73 (2007) 891-900.

·        Rytting, E. and Audus, K.L. Effects of Low Oxygen Levels on the Expression and Function of Transporter OCTN2 in BeWo Cells. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology 59 (2007) 1095-1102.

·        Bode, C., Jin, H., Rytting, E., Silverstein, P.S., Young, A.M., and Audus, K.L. In vitro Models for Studying Trophoblast Transcellular Transport. Methods in Molecular Medicine 122 (2006) 225-239.

·        Karunaratne, D.N., Silverstein, P.S., Vasandani, V., Young, A.M., Rytting, E., Yops, B., and Audus, K.L. Cell Culture Models for Drug Transport Studies. In Drug Delivery: Principles and Applications. Wang, B. et al., eds., John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ, 2005.

·       Rytting, E. and Audus, K.L. Novel Organic Cation Transporter 2-Mediated Carnitine Uptake in Placental Choriocarcinoma (BeWo) Cells. The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 312 (2005) 192-198.

·       Rytting, E., Lentz, K.A., Chen, X.Q., Qian, F., and Venkatesh, S. Aqueous and Cosolvent Solubility Data for Drug-Like Organic Compounds. The AAPS Journal 7 (2005) E78-E105.

·        Rytting, E., Lentz, K.A., Chen, X.Q., Qian, F., and Venkatesh, S. A Quantitative Structure-Property Relationship for Predicting Drug Solubility in PEG 400/ Water Cosolvent Systems. Pharmaceutical Research 21 (2004) 237-244.



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