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PLoS One. 2008;3(11):e3747. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003747. Epub 2008 Nov 18.

Self-assembly in monoelaidin aqueous dispersions: direct vesicles to cubosomes transition.

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Institute of Biophysics and Nanosystems Research (IBN), Austrian Academy of Sciences, Graz, Austria.



In the present study, synchrotron small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and Cryo-TEM were used to characterize the temperature-induced structural transitions of monoelaidin (ME) aqueous dispersion in the presence of the polymeric stabilizer F127. We prove that the direct transition from vesicles to cubosomes by heating this dispersion is possible. The obtained results were compared with the fully hydrated bulk ME phase.


Our results indicate the formation of ME dispersion, which is less stable than that based on the congener monoolein (MO). In addition, the temperature-dependence behavior significantly differs from the fully hydrated bulk phase. SAXS findings indicate a direct L(alpha)-V(2) internal transition in the dispersion. While the transition temperature is conserved in the dispersion, the formed cubosomes with internal Im3m symmetry clearly contain more water and this ordered interior is retained over a wider temperature range as compared to its fully hydrated bulk system. At 25 degrees C, Cryo-TEM observations reveal the formation of most likely closely packed onion-like vesicles. Above the lamellar to non-lamellar phase transition at 65 degrees C, flattened cubosomes with an internal nanostructure are observed. However, they have only arbitrary shapes and thus, their morphology is significantly different from that of the well-shaped analogous MO cubosome and hexosome particles.


Our study reveals a direct liposomes-cubosomes transition in ME dispersion. The obtained results suggest that the polymeric stabilizer F127 especially plays a significant role in the membrane fusion processes. F127 incorporates in considerable amount into the internal nanostructure and leads to the formation of a highly swollen Im3m phase.

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