Hydration of polyethylene glycol-grafted liposomes

Oren Tirosh, Yechezkel Barenholz*, Jehoshua Katzhendler, Aba Priev

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

252 Scopus citations


This study aimed to characterize the effect of polyethylene glycol of 2000 molecular weight (PEG2000) attached to a dialkylphosphatidic acid (dihexadecylphosphatidyl (DHP)-PEG2000) on the hydration and thermodynamic stability of lipid assemblies. Differential scanning calorimetry, densitometry, and ultrasound velocity and absorption measurements were used for thermodynamic and hydrational characterization. Using a differential scanning calorimetry technique we showed that each molecule of PEG2000 binds 136 ± 4 molecules of water. For PEG2000 covalently attached to the lipid molecules organized in micelles, the water binding increases to 210 ± 6 water molecules. This demonstrates that the two different structural configurations of the PEG2000, a random coil in the case of the free PEG and a brush in the case of DHP-PEG2000 micelles, differ in their hydration level. Ultrasound absorption changes in liposomes reflect mainly the heterophase fluctuations and packing defects in the lipid bilayer. The PEG-induced excess ultrasound absorption of the lipid bilayer at 7.7 MHz for PEG-lipid concentrations over 5 mol % indicates the increase in the relaxation time of the headgroup rotation due to PEG-PEG interactions. The adiabatic compressibility (calculated from ultrasound velocity and density) of the lipid bilayer of the liposome increases monotonically with PEG-lipid concentration up to ~7 mol %, reflecting release of water from the lipid headgroup region. Elimination of this water, induced by grafted PEG, leads to a decrease in bilayer defects and enhanced lateral packing of the phospholipid acyl chains. We assume that the dehydration of the lipid headgroup region in conjunction with the increase of the hydration of the outer layer by grafting PEG in brush configuration are responsible for increasing thermodynamic stability of the liposomes at 5-7 mol % of PEG- lipid. At higher PEG-lipid concentrations, compressibility and partial volume of the lipid phase of the samples decrease. This reflects the increase in hydration of the lipid headgroup region (up to five additional water molecules per lipid molecule for 12 mol % PEG-lipid) and the weakening of the bilayer packing due to the lateral repulsion of PEG chains.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1371-1379
Number of pages9
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1998


Dive into the research topics of 'Hydration of polyethylene glycol-grafted liposomes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this