Doxorubicin Interaction with Lipid Monolayers Leads to Decreased Membrane Stiffness when Experiencing Compression-Expansion Dynamics

Jorge A. Ceballos, Sebastián Jaramillo-Isaza, Juan C. Calderón, Paulo B. Miranda, Marco A. Giraldo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Physical membrane models permit to study and quantify the interactions of many external molecules with monitored and simplified systems. In this work, we have constructed artificial Langmuir single-lipid monolayers with dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC), dipalmitoylphosphatidylethanolamine (DPPE), dipalmitoylphosphatidylserine (DPPS), or sphingomyelin to resemble the main lipid components of the mammalian cell membranes. We determined the collapse pressure, minimum area per molecule, and maximum compression modulus (Cs-1) from surface pressure measurements in a Langmuir trough. Also, from compression/expansion isotherms, we estimated the viscoelastic properties of the monolayers. With this model, we explored the membrane molecular mechanism of toxicity of the well-known anticancer drug doxorubicin, with particular emphasis in cardiotoxicity. The results showed that doxorubicin intercalates mainly between DPPS and sphingomyelin, and less between DPPE, inducing a change in the Cs-1 of up to 34% for DPPS. The isotherm experiments suggested that doxorubicin had little effect on DPPC, partially solubilized DPPS lipids toward the bulk of the subphase, and caused a slight or large expansion in the DPPE and sphingomyelin monolayers, respectively. Furthermore, the dynamic viscoelasticity of the DPPE and DPPS membranes was greatly reduced (by 43 and 23%, respectively), while the reduction amounted only to 12% for sphingomyelin and DPPC models. In conclusion, doxorubicin intercalates into the DPPS, DPPE, and sphingomyelin, but not into the DPPC, membrane lipids, inducing a structural distortion that leads to decreased membrane stiffness and reduced compressibility modulus. These alterations may constitute a novel, early step in explaining the doxorubicin mechanism of action in mammalian cancer cells or its toxicity in non-cancer cells, with relevance to explain its cardiotoxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8603-8611
Number of pages9
Issue number25
StatePublished - Jun 27 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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