Ion pair amphiphile (IPA), a molecular complex composed of a pair of cationic and anionic surfactants, has been proposed as a novel phospholipid substitute. Controlling the physical stability of IPA vesicles is important for its application developments such as cosmetic and drug deliveries. To investigate the effects of IPA alkyl chain combinations and the cholesterol additive on the structural and mechanical properties of IPA vesicular bilayers, we conducted a series of molecular dynamics studies on the hexadecyltrimethylammonium-dodecylsulfate (HTMA-DS) and dodecyltrimethylammonium-hexadecylsulfate (DTMA-HS) IPA bilayers with cholesterol. We found that both IPA bilayers are in the gel phase at 298 K, consistent with experimental observations. Compared with the HTMA-DS system, the DTMA-HS bilayer has more disordered alkyl chains in the hydrophobic region. When adding cholesterol, it induces alkyl chain ordering around its rigid sterol ring. Yet, cholesterol increases the molecular areas for all species and disturbs the molecular packing near the hydrophilic region and the bilayer core. Cholesterol also promotes the alkyl chain mismatch between the IPA moieties, especially for the DTMA-HS bilayer. The combined effects lead to non-monotonically enhancement of the membrane mechanical moduli for both IPA-cholesterol systems. Furthermore, cholesterol can form H-bonds with the alkylsulfate and thus enhance the contribution of alkylsulfate to the overall mechanical moduli. Combined results provide valuable molecular insights into the roles of each IPA component and the cholesterol on modulating the IPA bilayer properties.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry