Molecularly tethered lipid bilayer membranes were constructed on a commercially available chemically modified gold substrate. This is a new and promising product that has allowed the construction of very robust lipid bilayers. Very high resolution electrical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) was used to determine the dielectric structure of the lipid bilayers and associated interfaces. The EIS data were modelled in terms of the dielectric substructure using purpose developed software. The hydrophobic region, where the lipid tails are located, was revealed by the EIS in the frequency range of (1–100) Hz and its thickness was calculated from the capacitance of this region and found to be approximately 3–4 nm. The hydrophilic region, where the polar heads are located, was revealed at higher frequencies and its thickness was estimated to be approximately 1–2 nm. The effect of the local anaesthetic benzyl alcohol (BZA) on the tethered lipid bilayers was investigated. The effect of BZA on the membrane capacitance and conductance allowed the changes in the thickness of the polar head and hydrophobic tails regions to be determined. It was found that the addition of BZA caused a significant increase in the capacitance (corresponding to a decrease in the thickness) of the hydrophobic region and an increase in the membrane electrical conductance. The EIS allowed a distinction between a hydrophobic region in the centre of the bilayer and an outer hydrophobic region. Benzyl alcohol was found to have the largest effect on the outer, hydrophobic region, although the inner hydrophobic region was also consistently affected.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 1, 2016
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