Effect of benzyl alcohol on lipid bilayers. A comparisons of bilayer systems.
The effect of the small anesthetic molecule, benzyl alcohol, on the structure of various bilayer system has been studied by optical, electrical, and x-ray diffraction techniques. We find that the modifications in bilayer thickness caused by benzyl alcohol differ dramatically for planar (or black lipid) bilayers containing solvent, planar bilayers containing little or no solvent, and vesicular bilayers. Benzyl alcohol increases the thickness of planar bilayers containing n-alkane solvents, yet decreases the thickness of "solvent-free" planar bilayers. The effect of benzyl alcohol on vesicular bilayers below the phase transition temperature also depends on whether solvent is present in the bilayers. Without solvent, gel-state bilayers are reduced in thickness by benzyl alcohol, whereas in the presence of solvent, the thickness is unchanged. Above the phase transition temperature, benzyl alcohol has no measurable effect on vesicular bilayer thickness, whether solvent is present or not. These results indicate that different model membrane systems respond quite differently to a particular anesthetic.
Ebihara, L; Hall, JE; MacDonald, RC; McIntosh, TJ; Simon, SA
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