The water and nonelectrolyte permeability induced in thin lipid membranes by the polyene antibiotics nystatin and amphotericin b

Ronald Holz, Alan Finkelstein

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Nystatin and amphotericin B increase the permeability of thin (>100 A) lipid membranes to ions, water, and nonelectrolytes. Water and nonelectrolyte permeability increase linearly with membrane conductance (i.e., ion permeability). In the unmodified membrane, the osmotic permeability coefficient, Pf is equal to the tagged water permeability coefficient, (Pd).; in the nystatin- or amphotericin B-treated membrane, Pf/(Pd)w ≈ 3. The unmodified membrane is virtually impermeable to small hydrophilic solutes, such as urea, ethylene glycol, and glycerol; the nystatin- or amphotericin Btreated membrane displays a graded permeability to these solutes on the basis of size. This graded permeability is manifest both in the tracer permeabilities, Pd, and in the reflection coefficients, σ (Table I). The "cutoff" in permeability occurs with molecules about the size of glucose (Stokes-Einstein radius ≅ 4 A). We conclude that nystatin and amphotericin B create aqueous pores in thin lipid membranes; the effective radius of these pores is approximately 4 A. There is a marked similarity between the permeability of a nystatin- or amphotericin B-treated membrane to water and small hydrophilic solutes and the permeability of the human red cell membrane to these same molecules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-145
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of General Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 1970


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology

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