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Chem Phys Lipids. 2005 Mar;134(1):69-77. Epub 2005 Jan 20.

Iron affects the structure of cell membrane molecular models.

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Department of Polymers, Faculty of Chemical Sciences, University of Concepción, Casilla 160-C, Concepción, Chile.


The effects of Fe(3+) and Fe(2+) on molecular models of biomembranes were investigated. These consisted of bilayers of dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine (DMPC) and of dimyristoylphosphatidylethanolamine (DMPE), classes of phospholipids located in the outer and inner moieties of cell membranes, respectively. X-ray studies showed that very low concentrations of Fe(3+) affected DMPC organization and 10(-3)M induced a total loss of its multilamellar periodic stacking. Experiments carried out with Fe(2+) on DMPC showed weaker effects than those induced by Fe(3+) ions. Similar experiments were performed on DMPE bilayers. Fe(3+) from 10(-7)M up to 10(-4)M had practically no effect on DMPE structure. However, 10(-3)M Fe(3+) induced a deep perturbation of the multilamellar structure of DMPE. However, 10(-3)M Fe(2+) had no effect on DMPE organization practically. Differential scanning calorimetry measurements also revealed different effects of Fe(3+) and Fe(2+) on the phase transition and other thermal properties of the examined lipids. In conclusion, the results obtained indicate that iron ions interact with phospholipid bilayers perturbing their structures. These findings are consistent with the observation that iron ions change cell membrane fluidity and, therefore, affect its functions.

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