Charged Anesthetics Selectively Alter Plasma Membrane Order

William D. Sweet, W. Gibson Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Although indirect evidence supporting differential lipid fluidity in the two monolayers of plasma membranes has accumulated, unambiguous demonstration of this difference has been difficult to obtain. In the present study, the fluorescent probe l,6-diphenyl-l,3,5-hexatriene (DPH), selective quenching of fluorescence by trinitrophenyl groups, and differential polarized phase fluorescence techniques were used to directly examine the static (order) and dynamic (rotational rate) components of lipid motion in the exofacial and cytofacial leaflets of LM Fibroblast plasma membranes. The limiting anisotropy (0.137), the order parameter (0.590), and the rotational relaxation time (1.20 ns) of DPH in the plasma membranes (inner plus outer leaflet) indicated rapid but restricted probe motion in the lipid environment. However, the statics and dynamics of DPH motion in the individual monolayers were significantly (p < 0.025) different. The limiting anisotropy, order parameter, and rotational relaxation time of DPH in the cytofacial monolayer were 0.036, 0.08, and 0.16 ns, respectively, greater than calculated for the exofacial monolayer of the LM plasma membrane. At appropriate concentrations, phenobarbital and, to a lesser degree, pentobarbital preferentially reduced the limiting anisotropy of DPH calculated for the exofacial leaflet while prilocaine reduced the limiting anisotropy of DPH in the cytofacial leaflet of LM fibroblast plasma membranes. In contrast, the putative cytofacial anesthetic procaine failed to show any preference for either leaflet. Arrhenius plots of DPH fluorescence in LM plasma membranes showed a prominent characteristic break point near 30–32 °C. Phenobarbital, pentobarbital, and procaine did not affect this break point while prilocaine selectively abolished it. The break point was therefore assigned to the inner monolayer of the LM plasma membrane.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2828-2835
Number of pages8
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1987


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