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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2005 May 30;1740(2):108-15. Epub 2004 Dec 16.

Carotenoids as modulators of lipid membrane physical properties.

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Department of Biophysics, Institute of Physics, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, 20-031 Lublin, Poland.


Carotenoids are a group of pigments present both in the plant and animal kingdoms, which play several important physiological functions. The protection against active oxygen species, realised via the quenching of excited states of photosensitizing molecules, quenching of singlet oxygen and scavenging of free radicals, is one of the main biological functions of carotenoids. Several recent research indicate that the protection of biomembranes against oxidative damage can be also realised via the modification of the physical properties of the lipid phase of the membranes. This work presents an overview of research on an effect of carotenoids on the structural and dynamic properties of lipid membranes carried out with the application of different techniques such as Electron Paramagnetic Resonance, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Differential Scanning Calorimetry, X-ray diffractometry, monomolecular layer technique and other techniques. It appears that, in most cases, polar carotenoids span lipid bilayer and have their polar groups anchored in the opposite polar zones of the membrane. Owing to the van der Waals interactions of rigid rod-like molecules of carotenoid and acyl chains of lipids, pigment molecules rigidify the fluid phase of the membranes and limit oxygen penetration to the hydrophobic membrane core susceptible to oxidative degradation.

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