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Probing the modes of antibacterial activity of chitosan. Effects of pH and molecular weight on chitosan interactions with membrane lipids in Langmuir films

Probing the modes of antibacterial activity of chitosan. Effects of pH and molecular weight on chitosan interactions with membrane lipids in Langmuir films

Biomacromolecules 12(11): 4144-4152

Chitosan, a cationic biopolymer derived from chitin, has been described as having antibacterial activity. The modes of this activity, however, have not been established. One mode proposed is that chitosan perturbs bacterial cell membranes. To validate this proposal, in this study we investigated chitosan interactions with lipids in Langmuir monolayers as model membranes. The interactions were assessed by monitoring differences in the shape of the compression isotherms measured in the absence and presence of chitosan in the subphase (acetate buffer). To appraise the contribution of electrostatic interactions versus hydrogen bonding and hydrophobic interactions, three membrane lipids differing in charge were studied-anionic dipalmitoylphosphatidylglycerol (DPPG), zwitterionic dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC), and neutral cholesterol-and the pH of the subphase was varied between 3.5 and 6.0. In addition, the impact of the molecular weight of chitosan on the interactions was assessed at pH 3.5. It was found that while chitosan had a negligible effect on DPPC monolayers over the pH range studied, it distinctly affected DPPG and cholesterol monolayers. The effect on DPPG was found to decrease with increasing pH, that at pH 3.5 being ascribed to the charge-mediating action of chitosan on the local ionic environment and that at higher pHs to the intercalation of chitosan to the monolayers. Practically independent of pH, the effect of chitosan on cholesterol was accounted for by the formation of cholesterol-chitosan hydrogen bonds. Chitosan of lower molecular weight facilitated the interactions with all the three lipids studied. The results obtained may be helpful in identifying the mode of antibacterial activity of chitosan versus other modes that involve the disturbance of cell life cycles.

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Accession: 055191480

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PMID: 21936509

DOI: 10.1021/bm2012295

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