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Life Sci. 2000 Jul 7;67(7):743-57.

Steroid hormone-induced effects on membrane fluidity and their potential roles in non-genomic mechanisms.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales Swansea, Singleton Park, United Kingdom.


Steroid hormones are lipophilic suggesting they intercalate into the bilayer of target cell plasma membranes, potentially altering the fluidity and function of the membrane. The present study measured the effects of steroidal exposure on both phospholipid fluidity and integral protein mobility. Studies were performed on the effects of a variety of steroids on phosphatidylcholine liposomes, synaptosomal plasma membranes and sarcoplasmic reticulum membranes. Progesterone decreased the lipid fluidity, whereas testosterone had no effect on lipid movement. The estrogen, 17 beta-estradiol, an aromatised metabolite of testosterone, increased lipid mobility. In each case, the steroid action was concentration-dependent. The steroids all increased the activity of the Ca2+ ATPase of SR membrane, in keeping with their effects on this enzyme's aggregation state. The results suggest that, although lipid fluidity is a factor influencing protein activity, their mobility within the bilayer is the primary determinant of enzyme activity in the membrane for most proteins.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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