Composition effects on photooxidative membrane destabilization by TiO2 nanoparticles

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Membrane interactions and photooxidative membrane destabilization of titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles were investigated, focusing on the effects of membrane composition, notably phospholipid headgroup charge and presence of cholesterol. For this, we employed a battery of state-of-the-art methods for studies of bilayers formed by zwitterionic palmitoyloleoylphosphatidylcholine (POPC) containing also polyunsaturated palmitoylarachidonoylphosphocholine (PAPC), as well as its mixtures with anionic palmitoyloleoylphosphatidylglycerol (POPG) and cholesterol. It was found that the TiO2 nanoparticles display close to zero charge at pH 7.4, resulting in aggregation. At pH 3.4, in contrast, the 6 nm TiO2 nanoparticles are well dispersed due to a strongly positive ζ-potential. Mirroring this pH dependence, TiO2 nanoparticles were observed to bind to negatively charged lipid bilayers at pH 3.4, but much less so at pH 7.4. While nanoparticle binding has some destabilizing effect alone, illumination with ultraviolet (UV) light accentuates membrane destabilization, a result of oxidative stress caused by generated reactive oxygen species (ROS). Neutron reflectivity (NR), quartz crystal microbalance (QCM), and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) results all demonstrate that membrane composition strongly influences membrane interactions and photooxidative destabilization of lipid bilayers. In particular, the presence of anionic POPG makes the bilayers more sensitive to oxidative destabilization, whereas a stabilizing effect was observed in the presence of cholesterol. Also, structural aspects of peroxidation were found to depend strongly on membrane composition, notably the presence of anionic phospholipids. The results show that membrane interactions and UV-induced ROS generation act in concert and need to be considered together to understand effects of lipid membrane composition on UV-triggered oxidative destabilization by TiO2 nanoparticles, e.g., in the context of oxidative damage of bacteria and cells.


  • S. Malekkhaiat Häffner
  • E. Parra-Ortiz
  • M. W.A. Skoda
  • T. Saerbeck
  • Kathryn Louise Browning
  • M. Malmsten
Enheter & grupper
Externa organisationer
  • University of Copenhagen
  • Institut Laue Langevin
  • Rutherford Appleton Laboratory

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Fysikalisk kemi


Sidor (från-till)19-33
Antal sidor15
TidskriftJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
StatusPublished - 2021 feb 15
Peer review utfördJa