The diffusion process of dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) through zwitterionic dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine (DMPC) lipid bilayer was studied by means of molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. To account for the cryoprotectant concentration difference between the inside and the outside of the cell, dual DMPC lipid bilayers which separate two aqueous reservoirs with and without DMSO were modeled. The initial configuration of the simulation model had DMSO molecules present in one of the aqueous phases (outside the cell) at two different concentrations of ~3 and ~6 mol%. MD simulations were performed on the systems for 50 ns at 323 K and 1 bar. Although the simulation time considered in the study was insufficient for the DMSO molecules to reach the other aqueous phase and equilibrium, early stages of the diffusion process indicated that DMSO molecules had a tendency to diffuse towards the other aqueous phase. The effects of DMSO on bilayer structural characteristics during the diffusion process were investigated. Simulations were analyzed to correlate the following properties of lipid bilayers in the presence of two different aqueous phases: area per lipid, lipid thickness, mass density profiles, lipid tail order parameter and water dipole orientation. Area per lipid calculated for the leaflet facing the aqueous DMSO–water mixture did not show any significant difference compared to area per lipid for the DMSO-free pure DMPC bilayer. Mass density profiles revealed that DMSO molecules had a strong tendency to diffuse toward the aqueous phase with pure water. The lipid tail order parameter calculated for the sn-1 tail of the leaflet facing the aqueous DMSO–water mixture showed that the ordering of lipid tails decreased compared to the leaflet exposed to pure water. However, the ordering of lipid tails in a system where a single bilayer is hydrated by an aqueous DMSO–water mixture is far lower.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 27, 2012
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