Comparative computational study of interaction of C60-fullerene and tris-malonyl-C60-fullerene isomers with lipid bilayer: relation to their antioxidant effect

PLoS One. 2014 Jul 14;9(7):e102487. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0102487. eCollection 2014.


Oxidative stress induced by excessive production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) has been implicated in the etiology of many human diseases. It has been reported that fullerenes and some of their derivatives-carboxyfullerenes-exhibits a strong free radical scavenging capacity. The permeation of C60-fullerene and its amphiphilic derivatives-C3-tris-malonic-C60-fullerene (C3) and D3-tris-malonyl-C60-fullerene (D3)-through a lipid bilayer mimicking the eukaryotic cell membrane was studied using molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. The free energy profiles along the normal to the bilayer composed of 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DPPC) for C60, C3 and D3 were calculated. We found that C60 molecules alone or in clusters spontaneously translocate to the hydrophobic core of the membrane and stay inside the bilayer during the whole period of simulation time. The incorporation of cluster of fullerenes inside the bilayer changes properties of the bilayer and leads to its deformation. In simulations of the tris-malonic fullerenes we discovered that both isomers, C3 and D3, adsorb at the surface of the bilayer but only C3 tends to be buried in the area of the lipid headgroups forming hydrophobic contacts with the lipid tails. We hypothesize that such position has implications for ROS scavenging mechanism in the specific cell compartments.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adsorption
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Biological Transport
  • Fullerenes / chemistry*
  • Fullerenes / pharmacology
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Lipid Bilayers / chemistry
  • Lipid Bilayers / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation
  • Oxidative Stress


  • Antioxidants
  • Fullerenes
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • fullerene C60

Grant support

This work was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research,, Grant #13-04-01570a. The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.