Contribution of hydrogen bonding to lipid-lipid interactions in membranes and the role of lipid order: effects of cholesterol, increased phospholipid unsaturation, and ethanol

Biochemistry. 1993 Apr 13;32(14):3714-21. doi: 10.1021/bi00065a025.


It is proposed that increased phospholipid unsaturation in membranes and perturbation by agents such as ethanol weaken interlipid hydrogen bonding involving water and that the process is independent of effects on lipid order. To investigate this, the rates of phospholipid desorption, as a measure of the strength of interlipid interactions, from "donor" lipid vesicles was determined. This was accomplished using (7-nitrobenzo-2-oxa-1,3-diazole-4-yl)aminohexanoate (C6-NBD) labeled phospholipids, the rate of desorption being followed from changes in fluorescence with time. The rates of desorption of the NBD-phospholipids from phosphatidylcholine (PC) donor vesicles was in the order phosphatidylcholine (PC) > phosphatidylserine (PS) > phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), the slower rates in the PS and PE reflecting direct interlipid hydrogen bonding. For PC, the interlipid hydrogen bonding was restricted to the "hydration layer", the network of hydrogen-bonded water molecules extending between phospholipid head groups. The rate of C6-NBD-PC desorption was elevated with higher levels of donor PC sn-2 unsaturation, due the increased head group spacing weakening the lipid-lipid interactions that occur via the hydration layer. Ethanol also increased the rate of NBD-phospholipid desorption from donor PC vesicles in the order PC > PS > PE, showing that PC interactions, here limited to the weaker hydrogen-bonded water molecule network, were more susceptible compared to stronger, direct interlipid hydrogen bonds involving PE and PS. The relative magnitude of the ethanol-induced increase in the desorption rate was amplified with higher levels of donor lipid sn-2 unsaturation. Cholesterol had little effect on the rate of phospholipid desorption.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 4-Chloro-7-nitrobenzofurazan / analogs & derivatives
  • Aminocaproates
  • Cell Membrane / chemistry*
  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Chemistry, Physical
  • Cholesterol / pharmacology*
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Ethylamines / pharmacology
  • Fluorescence Polarization
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Hydrogen Bonding
  • Lipid Bilayers / chemistry
  • Membrane Lipids / chemistry*
  • Phosphatidylcholines / chemistry
  • Phosphatidylethanolamines / chemistry
  • Phosphatidylserines / chemistry
  • Phospholipids / chemistry*
  • Thermodynamics


  • Aminocaproates
  • Ethylamines
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • Phosphatidylethanolamines
  • Phosphatidylserines
  • Phospholipids
  • Ethanol
  • 7-nitrobenzoxadiazole-6-aminohexanoic acid
  • Cholesterol
  • 4-Chloro-7-nitrobenzofurazan
  • ethylamine