Langmuir, 2017, vol 33, 43, pp. 12351-12361
The saponin aescin from the horse chestnut tree is a natural surfactant well-known to self-assemble as oriented-aggregates at fluid interfaces. Using model membranes in the form of lipid vesicles and Langmuir monolayers, we study the mixing properties of aescin with the phase-segregating phospholipid 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-phosphocholine (DMPC). The binary membranes are experimentally studied on different length scales ranging from the lipid headgroup area to the macroscopic scale using small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), photon correlation spectroscopy (PCS), and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) with binary bilayer vesicles and Langmuir tensiometry (LT) with lipid monolayers spread on the surface of aescin solutions. The binary interaction was found to strongly depend on aescin concentration in two well differentiated concentration regimes. Below 7 mol %, the results reveal phase segregation of nanometer-sized aescin-rich domains in an aescin-poor continuous bilayer. Above this concentration, aescin–aescin interactions dominate, which inhibit vesicle formation but lead to the formation of new membrane aggregates of smaller sizes. From LT studies in monolayers, the interaction of aescin with DMPC was shown to be stronger in the condensed phase than in the liquid expanded phase. Furthermore, a destructuring role was revealed for aescin on phospholipid membranes, similar to the fluidizing effect of cholesterol and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) on lipid bilayers.