The physicochemical properties of cardiolipin bilayers and cardiolipin-containing lipid membranes

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2009 Oct;1788(10):2069-79. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2009.03.014. Epub 2009 Mar 26.


In this review article, we summarize the current state of biophysical knowledge concerning the phase behavior and organization of cardiolipin (CL) and CL-containing phospholipid bilayer model membranes. We first briefly consider the occurrence and distribution of CL in biological membranes and its probable biological functions therein. We next consider the unique chemical structure of the CL molecule and how this structure may determine its distinctive physical properties. We then consider in some detail the thermotropic phase behavior and organization of CL and CL-containing lipid model membranes as revealed by a variety of biophysical techniques. We also attempt to relate the chemical properties of CL to its function in the biological membranes in which it occurs. Finally, we point out the requirement for additional biophysical studies of both lipid model and biological membranes in order to increase our currently limited understanding of the relationship between CL structure and physical properties and CL function in biological membranes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiolipins / chemistry*
  • Cardiolipins / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / chemistry*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lipid Bilayers / chemistry*
  • Lipid Bilayers / metabolism
  • Phospholipids / chemistry
  • Phospholipids / metabolism


  • Cardiolipins
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Phospholipids