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Langmuir. 2005 Jul 5;21(14):6317-23.

Dehydration damage of domain-exhibiting supported bilayers: an AFM study on the protective effects of disaccharides and other stabilizing substances.

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  • 1Biotechnologisches Zentrum, Dresden University of Technology, Tatzberg 47-51, D-01307, Dresden, Germany.


Atomic force microscopy (AFM) has been applied to characterize hydrated sphingomyelin/dioleoylphosphatidylcholine/cholesterol supported bilayers, after dehydration either in the absence or in the presence of several stabilizing substances. Such a study provides information about the effect of extreme environmental conditions on biological membranes and, in particular, on lipidic microdomains. Dehydration stress, indeed, is thought to cause both macroscopical damage and alterations of microdomains in biomembranes, leading to deleterious effects. These phenomena can be avoided if disaccharides are added during dehydration. In this work, we apply AFM imaging to directly visualize damage caused to supported lipid bilayers by water removal. We compare the efficiency of sucrose, trehalose, dextran, dimethyl sulfoxide, and glucose in preserving the structural integrity of domain-exhibiting model membranes. Finally, in addition to confirming previous findings, our results provide further insight into damage and alteration of microdomains in membranes as a consequence of stressful drying conditions.

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