Water and nonelectrolyte permeability of lipid bilayer membranes

A. Finkelstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

263 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Both the permeability coefficints (P(d)'s) through lipid bilayer membranes of varying composition (lecithin [L], lecithin: cholesterol [LC], and sphingomyelin: cholesterol [SC] and the n hexadecane: water partition coefficients (K(hc)'s) of H2O and seven nonelectrolytes (1,6 hexanediol, 1,4 butanediol, n butyramide, isobutyramide, acetamide, formamide, and urea) were measured. For a given membrane composition, P(d)/DK(hc) (where D is the diffusion constant in water) is the same for most of the molecules tested. There is no extraordinary dependence of P(d) on molecular weight; thus, given P(d) (acetamide), P(d) (1,6 hexanediol) is correctly predicted from the K(hc) and D values for the two molecules. The major exceptions are H2O, whose value of P(d)/DK(hc) is about 10 fold larger, and urea, whose value is about 5 fold smaller than the general average. In a 'tight' membrane such as SC, P(d) (n butyramide)/P(d) (isobutyramide) = 2.5; thus this bilayer manifests the same sort of discrimination between branched and straight chain molecules as occurs in many plasma membranes. Although the absolute values of the P(d)'s change by more than a factor of 100 in going from the tightest membrane (SC) to the loosest (L), the relative values remain approximately constant. The general conclusion of this study is that H2O and nonelectrolytes cross lipid bilayer membranes by a solubility diffusion mechanism, and that the bilayer interior is much more like an oil (a la Overton) than a rubber like polymer) (a la Lieb and Stein).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-135
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of General Physiology
Volume68
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1976

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Lipid Bilayers
Permeability
Sphingomyelins
Cholesterol
Membranes
Water
Lecithins
Urea
Rubber
Solubility
Polymers
Oils
Molecular Weight
Cell Membrane
hexamethylene glycol
acetamide
isobutyramide
butyramide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology

Cite this

Water and nonelectrolyte permeability of lipid bilayer membranes. / Finkelstein, A.

In: Journal of General Physiology, Vol. 68, No. 2, 1976, p. 127-135.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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