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Fullerenol C60(OH)24 increases ion permeability of lipid membranes in a pH-dependent manner


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Fullerenols are water-soluble analogs of fullerene exhibiting both antioxidant and prooxidant activities in vitro and in vivo. Here we report, for the first time, that fullerenol C60(OH)24 can induce ion permeability of a planar lipid bilayer membrane via the formation of ion pores or conductive defects with a preference for cations over anions. The fullerenol-mediated electrical current displayed non-linear concentration dependence and was reversibly enhanced by alkalinization. Calcium and magnesium ions decreased the fullerenol-induced potassium ion permeability. Voltage dependence of the current was sensitive to membrane composition, with the conductance being well pronounced in fully saturated diphytanoylphosphatidylcholine. Fullerenol did not induce carboxyfluorescein leakage from liposomes, suggesting a small size of fullerenol-induced pores. In contrast to ion permeability, the binding of C60(OH)24 to liposomes increased at acidic pH, as measured by fluorescence quenching of pyrene-labeled lipid. In line with this, the photodynamic action of fullerenol on the peptide gramicidin A also increased at low pH. It is hypothesized that aggregates of fullerenol may stabilize transient conductive lipid defects or pores formed under a variety of stress conditions.

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