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Biophys Chem. 2004 Jul 1;110(1-2):39-47.

Effects of ethanol on lipid bilayers with and without cholesterol: the distearoylphosphatidylcholine system.

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Department of Chemistry, Occidental College, 1600 Campus Road, Los Angeles, CA 90041, USA.


Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and fluorescence spectroscopy are useful techniques for investigating the phase transitions of phospholipid bilayers. In this study, these methods have been extended to determine the effects of ethanol on DSPC and DSPC/2 mol.% cholesterol bilayers. The biphasic effect of the main transition was observed on the DSC heating scans above 0.60 M ethanol. In addition, the concentration at which the biphasic effect occurs is not significantly changed in the presence of 2 mol.% cholesterol. For the fluorescence studies, 1,6-diphenyl-1,3,5-hexatriene (DPH) has been incorporated into the bilayer to monitor the phase transitions through the displacement of DPH. This fluorescent probe is used to directly determine the onset of interdigitation in the bilayer systems as indicated by a large decrease in the DPH fluorescence intensity. The addition of cholesterol lowered and broadened the transition temperatures of the phosphatidylcholine (PC) system. However, 2 mol.% cholesterol did not have a significant effect on the induction of the interdigitated phase in DSPC as observed from the small difference in ethanol threshold concentration for the two systems. This suggests that DSPC forms a more stable interdigitated gel phase than other PCs with shorter acyl chains.

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