Kinetic analysis of permeation of mitochondria-targeted antioxidants across bilayer lipid membranes

J Membr Biol. Jul-Aug 2008;224(1-3):9-19. doi: 10.1007/s00232-008-9124-6. Epub 2008 Sep 20.


Mitochondria-targeted antioxidants consisting of a quinone part conjugated with a lipophilic cation via a hydrocarbon linker were previously shown to prevent oxidative damage to mitochondria in vitro and in vivo. In the present work, we studied the permeation of a series of compounds of this type across a planar bilayer phospholipid membrane. For this purpose, relaxation of the electrical current after a voltage jump was measured. With respect to the characteristic time of the relaxation process reflecting the permeation rate, hydrophobic cations can be ranked in the following series: 10(plastoquinonyl) decylrhodamine 19 (SkQR1) > 10-(6'-plastoquinonyl) decyltriphenylphosphonium (SkQ1) > 10-(6'-methylplastoquinonyl) decyltriphenylphosphonium (SkQ3) > 10-(6'-ubiquinonyl) decyltriphenylphosphonium (MitoQ). Thus, the permeation rate increased with (1) an increase in the size of the hydrophobic cation and (2) an increase in hydrophobicity of the quinone moiety. SkQ1 containing plastoquinone was shown to be more permeable through the membrane compared to MitoQ containing ubiquinone, which might be the reason for more pronounced beneficial action of SkQ1 in vitro and in vivo. The above approach can be recommended for the search for new antioxidants or other compounds targeted to mitochondria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / chemistry*
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Biological Transport
  • Cations / chemistry
  • Cations / metabolism
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Kinetics
  • Lipid Bilayers / chemistry*
  • Lipid Bilayers / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Molecular Structure
  • Organophosphorus Compounds / chemistry
  • Organophosphorus Compounds / metabolism
  • Permeability
  • Plastoquinone / analogs & derivatives
  • Plastoquinone / chemistry
  • Plastoquinone / metabolism
  • Ubiquinone / analogs & derivatives
  • Ubiquinone / chemistry
  • Ubiquinone / metabolism


  • 10-(6'-plastoquinonyl)decyltriphenylphosphonium
  • 10-(6'-ubiquinonyl)decyltriphenylphosphonium bromide
  • Antioxidants
  • Cations
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Organophosphorus Compounds
  • Ubiquinone
  • Plastoquinone