Main content area

Phospholipid Bilayer Softening Due to Hydrophobic Gold Nanoparticle Inclusions

Chakraborty, Saptarshi, Abbasi, Akram, Bothun, Geoffrey D., Nagao, Michihiro, Kitchens, Christopher L.
Langmuir 2018 v.34 no.44 pp. 13416-13425
biophysics, electron microscopy, hydrophobicity, light scattering, models, nanogold, nanoparticles, neutron diffraction, neutrons, phospholipids, spectroscopy
Liposome–nanoparticle assemblies (LNAs) are vital in the context of novel targeted drug-delivery systems, in addition to investigating nanoparticle–lipid bilayer interactions. Quantifying membrane structural properties and dynamics in presence of nanoparticle inclusions provides a simple model to elucidate nanoparticle effects on membrane biophysical properties. We present experimental evidences of bilayer softening due to small hydrophobic gold nanoparticle inclusions. LNA structure has been investigated by a combination of cryo-transmission electron microscopy, dynamic light scattering, and small-angle neutron scattering. Neutron spin echo spectroscopy demonstrated a remarkable ∼15% bending modulus decrease for LNAs relative to pure liposomes. Clear dependence of bending modulus on gold nanoparticle diameter and concentration was observed from our observations. Our findings point toward local bilayer fluidization by nanoparticle inclusions leading to an overall bilayer softening. These findings add valuable information to liposomal drug-delivery vehicle design and membrane biophysics research.