Effects of lipid chain length on molecular interactions between paclitaxel and phospholipid within model biomembranes

J Colloid Interface Sci. 2004 Jun 1;274(1):55-68. doi: 10.1016/j.jcis.2003.12.009.


Molecular interactions between an anticancer drug, paclitaxel, and phosphatidylcholine (PC) of various chain lengths were investigated in the present work by the Langmuir film balance technique and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). Both the lipid monolayer at the air-water interface and lipid bilayer vesicles (liposomes) were employed as model biological cell membranes. Measurement and analysis of the surface pressure versus molecular area curves of the mixed monolayers of phospholipids and paclitaxel under various molar ratio showed that phospholipids and paclitaxel formed a nonideal miscible system at the interface. Paclitaxel exerted an area-condensing effect on the lipid monolayer at small molecular surface areas and an area-expanding effect at large molecular areas, which could be explained by the intermolecular forces and geometric accommodation between the two components. Paclitaxel and phospholipids could form thermodynamically stable monolayer systems: the stability increased with the chain length in the order DMPC (C14:0)>DPPC (C16:0)>DSPC (C18:0). Investigation of paclitaxel penetration into the pure lipid monolayer showed that DMPC had a higher ability to incorporate paclitaxel and the critical surface pressure for paclitaxel penetration also increased with the chain length in the order DMPC>DPPC>DSPC. A similar trend was testified by DSC studies on vesicles of the mixed paclitaxel/phospholipids bilayer. Paclitaxel showed the greatest interaction with DMPC while little interaction could be measured in the paclitaxel/DSPC liposomes. Paclitaxel caused broadening of the main phase transition without significant change at the peak melting temperature of the phospholipid bilayers, which demonstrated that paclitaxel was localized in the outer hydrophobic cooperative zone of the bilayer. The interaction between paclitaxel and phospholipid was nonspecific and the dominant factor in this interaction was the van der Waals force or hydrophobic force. As the result of the lower net van der Waals interaction between hydrocarbon chains for the shorter acyl chains, paclitaxel interacted more readily with phospholipids of shorter chain length, which also increased the bilayer intermolecular spacing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Calorimetry, Differential Scanning
  • Lipid Bilayers / chemistry
  • Lipid Bilayers / metabolism
  • Liposomes / chemistry*
  • Liposomes / metabolism
  • Membrane Lipids / chemistry*
  • Membrane Lipids / metabolism*
  • Molecular Structure
  • Paclitaxel / chemistry*
  • Paclitaxel / metabolism*
  • Phospholipids / chemistry*
  • Phospholipids / metabolism*
  • Temperature


  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Liposomes
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Phospholipids
  • Paclitaxel