Measuring lipid packing of model and cellular membranes with environment sensitive probes

Langmuir. 2014 Jul 15;30(27):8160-6. doi: 10.1021/la501226v. Epub 2014 Jun 30.


The extent of lipid packing is one of the key physicochemical features of biological membranes and is involved in many membrane processes. Polarity sensitive fluorescent probes are commonly used tools to measure membrane lipid packing in both artificial and biological membranes. In this paper, we have systematically compared eight different probes to measure membrane lipid ordering. We investigated how these probes behave in small unilamellar liposomes, phase-separated giant unilamellar vesicles, cell-derived giant plasma membrane vesicles, and live cells. We have tested the order sensitivity of a variety of measurable parameters, including generalized polarization, peak shift, or intensity shift. We also investigated internalization and photostability of the probes to assess probe potential for time-lapse live cell imaging. These results provide a catalogue of properties to facilitate the choice of probe according to need.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Membrane / chemistry*
  • Membrane Lipids / chemistry*
  • Models, Chemical*


  • Membrane Lipids