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Biophys J. 2000 Oct;79(4):2033-42.

Miscibility critical pressures in monolayers of ternary lipid mixtures.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA.


When phospholipids are mixed with cholesterol in a monolayer at an air-water interface, coexisting 2-dimensional liquid phases can be observed if the surface pressure, pi, is lower than the miscibility critical pressure, pi(c). Ternary mixtures of two phospholipid species with dihydrocholesterol have been reported to have critical pressures that are linearly proportional to the relative composition of the phospholipids. However, we report here that, if the acyl chains of the two phospholipids differ significantly in length or unsaturation, the behavior is markedly different. In this case, the critical pressure of the ternary mixture can be remarkably high, exceeding the critical pressures of the corresponding binary mixtures. High critical pressures are also seen in binary mixtures of phospholipid and dihydrocholesterol when the two acyl chains of the phospholipid differ sufficiently in length. Using regular solution theory, we interpret the elevated critical pressures of these mixtures as an attractive interaction between the phospholipid components.

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