Effect of Cholesterol on the Stability and Lubrication Efficiency of Phosphatidylcholine Surface Layers

Raya Sorkin*, Nir Kampf, Jacob Klein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The lubrication properties of saturated PC lipid vesicles containing high cholesterol content under high loads were examined by detailed surface force balance measurements of normal and shear forces between two surface-attached lipid layers. Forces between two opposing mica surfaces bearing distearoylphosphatidylcholine (PC) (DSPC) small unilamellar vesicles (SUVs, or liposomes), or bilayers, with varying cholesterol content were measured across water, whereas dimyristoyl PC (DMPC), dipalmitoyl PC (DPPC), and DSPC SUVs containing 40% cholesterol were measured across liposome dispersions of SUVs of the same lipid composition as in the adsorbed layers. The results clearly demonstrate decreased stability and resistance to normal load with the increase in cholesterol content of DSPC SUVs. Friction coefficients between two 10% cholesterol PC-bilayers were in the same range as for 40% cholesterol bilayers (μ ≈ 10-3), indicating that cholesterol has a more substantial effect on the mechanical properties of a bilayer than on its lubrication performance. We further find that the lubrication efficiency of DMPC and DPPC with 40% cholesterol is superior to that of DSPC 40% cholesterol, most likely because of enhanced hydration-lubrication in these systems. We previously found that when experiments are performed in the presence of a lipid reservoir, layers can self-heal and therefore their robustness is less important under such conditions. We conclude that the effect of cholesterol in decreasing the stability is more pronounced than its effect on hydration, but the stability is, in turn, less important when a lipid reservoir is present. This study complements our previous work and sheds light on the effect of cholesterol, a prominent and important physiological lipid, on the mechanical and lubrication properties of gel-phase lipid layers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7459-7467
Number of pages9
Issue number30
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


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