Platelet-activating factor is a general membrane perturbant

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1989 Dec 11;987(1):129-32. doi: 10.1016/0005-2736(89)90464-1.


Platelet-activating factor (PAF) is, at physiological (nanomolar) concentrations, a potent mediator of inflammation and coagulation. At pharmacological (micromolar) concentrations, PAF induces a variety of effects in diverse tissues. Here we show that PAF at micromolar concentrations is a membrane perturbant. Micromolar PAF alters the properties of channels formed by gramicidin A, and at concentrations greater than or equal to 4 microM disrupts the barrier properties of the host lipid bilayer. PAF thus can act as a detergent and non-specifically alter the behavior of membranes and membrane proteins. This may provide an explanation for some of the effects of PAF seen at high concentrations in vitro.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Membrane / drug effects
  • Cell Membrane / physiology*
  • Detergents / pharmacology
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Gramicidin
  • Ion Channels / drug effects
  • Ion Channels / physiology
  • Lipid Bilayers / metabolism
  • Membrane Fluidity / drug effects
  • Platelet Activating Factor / administration & dosage
  • Platelet Activating Factor / pharmacology*


  • Detergents
  • Ion Channels
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Platelet Activating Factor
  • Gramicidin