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J Lipid Res. 1990 Jan;31(1):55-70.

Structural alterations in lecithin-cholesterol vesicles following interactions with monomeric and micellar bile salts: physical-chemical basis for subselection of biliary lecithin species and aggregative states of biliary lipids during bile formation.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115.


Using complementary physical-chemical methods including turbidimetry, quasielastic light scattering, gel filtration, and phase analysis, we examined the interactions between dilute concentrations of the common bile salt, taurochenodeoxycholate (TCDC), and uni- and multilamellar vesicles (MLVs) composed of defined molecular species of lecithin (L) and varying contents of cholesterol (Ch). Dissolution rates of MLVs with micellar TCDC, as assessed by turbidimetry, were more rapid with vesicles composed of sn-1 palmitoyl species, typical of biliary L, compared with those composed of the more hydrophobic sn-1 stearoyl species. Incorporation of Ch retarded MLV dissolution rates in proportion to the Ch content, and only at high Ch contents were dissolution rates appreciably influenced by the sn-2 fatty acid composition of L. When MLVs contained Ch in amounts characteristic of intracellular membranes (Ch/L approximately 0.1), the dissolution rates of the individual L species by TCDC accurately predicted the steady state L composition of human bile. TCDC interacted with small unilamellar L/Ch vesicles (SUVs) at concentrations well below, as well as appreciably above, its critical micellar concentration. In accordance with the TCDC-egg yolk L-H2O phase diagram, perimicellar concentrations of TCDC interacted with SUVs to form aggregates that were approximately twice the size of the SUVs. These were consistent with the formation of a dispersed hexagonal (rod-like) phase, which co-existed with aqueous bile salt (BS) monomers and either micellar or unilamellar SUV phases. Micellar TCDC completely solubilized SUVs as mixed micelles, putatively via this transient hexagonal phase. With modest Ch-supersaturation, dissolution was followed by the reemergence of a new vesicle population that coexisted metastably with mixed micelles. With high Ch supersaturation, TCDC extracted L and Ch molecules from SUVs in different proportions to form Ch-supersaturated mixed micelles and Ch-enriched SUVs, in accordance with the metastable phase diagram. These experiments are consistent with the hypothesis that sn-1 palmitoyl L species are subselected for bile, in part, by physical-chemical interactions of intracellular BS concentrations with Ch-poor membranes and that the subsequent evolution of Ch-rich vesicles and Ch-saturated mixed micelles occurs via a transitional hexagonal (rod) phase. These liquid-crystalline states are likely to be transient in Ch-unsaturated biles, but may persist in Ch-supersaturated human biles because of their high Ch contents which retard or inhibit these phase transitions.

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