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Cell Mol Biol Lett. 2001;6(2):161-5.

Oxyethylene chain-cation complexation: nonionic polyoxyethylene detergents attain a positive charge and demonstrate electrostatic head group interactions.

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Department of Biology, Abo Akademi University, Abo/Turku, Finland.


We report literature data indicating that the polyoxyethylene chain of polyoxyethylene detergents attracts cations via dipole-ion interactions thereby attaining a positive charge character. This implies that nonionic polyoxyethylene detergents like Triton X-100 and C12E8 may interact electrostatically with phospholipid head groups. We describe how a positive charge character of Triton X-100 and C12E8 can explain their hitherto mysterious stomatocytogenic shape altering effect in human erythrocytes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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