Lateral compressibility of lipid mono- and bilayers. Theory of membrane permeability

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1978 Nov 2;513(2):236-43. doi: 10.1016/0005-2736(78)90176-1.


The passive sodium permeability of pure lipid vesicles and dispersions has a large peak at the bilayer phase transition temperature. We discuss this anomaly in terms of density fluctuations, which can open up cavities in the headgroup region into which small ions can enter, and which may be large if bilayer conditions at the melting point are similar to those near the critical point which seems to exist in monolayers. We present two arguments, one thermodynamic and one microscopic, which suggest that the permeability is proportional to the lateral compressibility. We then calculate the lateral compressibility for two previously published theoretical models and compare the results with experiment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Chemistry, Physical
  • Membranes, Artificial*
  • Models, Biological
  • Permeability*
  • Phosphatidylglycerols
  • Sodium / physiology*
  • Temperature


  • Membranes, Artificial
  • Phosphatidylglycerols
  • Sodium