SAXS investigation of a cubic to a sponge (L3) phase transition in self-assembled lipid nanocarriers

Phys Chem Chem Phys. 2011 Feb 28;13(8):3073-81. doi: 10.1039/c0cp01029d. Epub 2010 Nov 16.


The encapsulation and release of peptides, proteins, nucleic acids, and drugs in nanostructured lipid carriers depend on the type of the self-assembled liquid-crystalline organization and the structural dimensions of the aqueous and membraneous compartments, which can be tuned by the multicomponent composition of the systems. In this work, small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) investigation is performed on the 'melting' transition of the bicontinuous double diamond cubic phase, formed by pure glycerol monooleate (MO), upon progressive inclusion of varying fractions of pharmaceutical-grade glycerol monooleate (GO) in the hydrated system. The self-assembled MO/GO mixtures are found to form diamond (Pn3m) inverted cubic, inverted hexagonal (H(II)), and sponge (L(3)) phases at ambient temperature in excess of aqueous medium without heat treatment. Mixing of the inverted-cubic-phase-forming MO and the sponge-phase-forming GO components, in equivalent proportions (50/50 w/w), yields an inverted hexagonal (H(II)) phase nanostructured carrier. Scattering models are applied for fitting of the experimental SAXS patterns and identification of the structural changes in the aqueous and lipid bilayer subcompartments. The possibility of transforming, at ambient temperature (20 °C), the bicontinuous cubic nanostructures into inverted hexagonal (H(II)) or sponge (L(3)) mesophases may facilitate novel biomedical applications of the investigated liquid crystalline self-assemblies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Glycerides / chemistry
  • Lipids / chemistry*
  • Nanostructures / chemistry*
  • Phase Transition
  • Scattering, Small Angle
  • Temperature
  • X-Ray Diffraction


  • Glycerides
  • Lipids
  • monoolein