Interactions of cryoprotective agents with phospholipid membranes - a Langmuir monolayer study

Raju, R.; Torrent-Burgués, J.; Bryant, G.

Chemistry and Physics of Lipids 231: 104949


ISSN/ISBN: 1873-2941
PMID: 32687839
DOI: 10.1016/j.chemphyslip.2020.104949
Accession: 071991815

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The influence of four common cryoprotectants (dimethyl sulfoxide, glycerol, ethylene glycol and dimethylformamide) on monolayers of four common phospholipids (DPPC, DOPC, POPC and POPE) have been studied using Langmuir isotherms and monolayer insertion experiments. The cryoprotectant concentrations were chosen to be directly relevant to cryoprotection. We show that DMSO causes an expansion of the DPPC area per lipid (in contrast to previous work at higher concentrations). However, it caused compression for POPC, and had little effect for POPE or DOPC. As most previous studies have involved only DPPC, this highlights the importance of studying different lipid types as these may have a significant effect on the interactions. We show that both ethylene glycol and glycerol cause a small expansion of the monolayer at fixed pressure, implying that they insert into the headgroup regions, regardless of lipid species, and consistent with their ability to penetrate membranes. By contrast, dimethylformamide causes monolayer compression for all lipid species, implying it dehydrates the lipid head groups. Membrane insertion experiments at physiological values of lateral pressure highlight that DPPC is the most difficult lipid to penetrate, implying that the penetrating action of cryoprotectants may only occur for unsaturated phospholipids. Thus, extrapolations of results based solely on the DPPC need to be made with care.