Stability of mixed micellar systems made by solubilizing phosphatidylcholine-cholesterol vesicles by bile salts

D. Lichtenberg*, S. Ragimova, A. Bor, S. Almog, C. Vinkler, Y. Peled, Z. Halpern

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Complete solubilization of phosphatidylcholine and cholesterol by bile salts in the form of stable mixed micelles requires that the effective ratio of bile salt/lipids in the mixed micelles (R(e) = ([bile salt] - critical micellar concentration)/([phosphatidylcholine] + [cholesterol]) will exceed a critical value. This equilibrium solubilizing ratio is an increasing function of the cholesterol/phosphatidylcholine ratio. In contrast, the concentration of sodium cholate required for solubilization of vesicles made of phosphatidylcholine and cholesterol does not increase by increasing the cholesterol/phosphatidylcholine ratio. Consequently, the latter solubilization procedure yields metastable mixed micelles whenever the cholate concentration is higher than that required for vesicle solubilization but lower than that needed for establishing a micellar equilibrium. These metastable mixed micelles undergo partial revesiculation to form cholesterol-rich vesicles that subsequently aggregate. Cholesterol crystallization appears to occur through its reorganization within these aggregated vesicles. The overall rate of the above series of processes increases sharply with the total lipid concentration and with the cholesterol/phosphatidylcholine ratio. The dependence of the rate on the effective ratio of bile salts/lipids is very complex: at any given ratio of cholesterol/phosphatidylcholine within the range of 0.3 to 0.5, increasing the cholesterol/phosphatidylcholine ratio requires higher cholate concentrations for the formation of stable mixed micelles (higher equilibrium solubilizing ratio). On the other hand, the metastable mixed micellar larsystems are long-lived whenever the effective ratio of cholate/lipids is lower than a critical value. This critical value decreases by increasing the cholesterol/phosphatidylcholine ratio. Thus the range of micelle instability is broadened as the cholesterol/phosphatidylcholine ratio increases. Analysis of existing data on the composition of native biliary bile samples suggests that most biles of gallstone patients are contained within the intermediary (instability) range of bile salt/lipid ratio expected from the model studies. This underlines the significance of the existence of long-lived metastable mixed micelles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149S-154S
Issue number3 II
StatePublished - 1990


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