Molecular aspects of the interaction between plants sterols and DPPC bilayers: an experimental and theoretical approach

J Colloid Interface Sci. 2011 Jun 1;358(1):192-201. doi: 10.1016/j.jcis.2011.02.048. Epub 2011 Feb 24.


The effect of sterols composition in a lipid bilayer was investigated on membranes of 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DPPC) and mixtures with the plant sterols β-sitosterol and stigmasterol. Differential scanning calorimetry, 1,6-diphenyl-1,3,5-hexatriene (DPH) fluorescence polarization and infrared spectroscopy studies showed that both sterols changed the packing of the membrane and the hydration of the polar headgroup of the phospholipids, disordering the gel phase and, vice versa, ordering the membrane in the liquid crystalline phase. In all cases some differences among β-sitosterol and stigmasterol could be observed, being β-sitosterol slightly more efficient than stigmasterol in ordering a fluid membrane, bringing the membrane to a more packed liquid ordered phase. Molecular dynamic simulations were carried out to better characterize the distinct behavior of both sterols in a DPPC-membrane. The calculated parameters agreed quite well with the experimental results and a molecular model is proposed to explain differences in the sterols molecules and their effect on the DPPC-bilayer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 1,2-Dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine / chemistry*
  • Calorimetry, Differential Scanning
  • Diffusion
  • Fluorescence Polarization
  • Lipid Bilayers / chemistry*
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation
  • Plants / chemistry*
  • Sitosterols / chemistry*
  • Spectrophotometry, Infrared
  • Stigmasterol / chemistry*


  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Sitosterols
  • 1,2-Dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine
  • gamma-sitosterol
  • Stigmasterol