Biophysical Chemistry, 2005, 114, 53.
Electron spin resonance (ESR) spectroscopy with nitroxide spin probes was used as a method to probe the liposome microenvironments. The effective microviscosities have been determined from the calibration of the ESR spectra of the probes in solvent mixtures of known viscosities. In the first time, by measuring ESR order parameter (S) and correlation time (tau(c)) of stearic spin probes, we have been able to quantify the value of effective microviscosity at different depths inside the liposome membrane. At room temperature, local microviscosities measured in dimyristoyl-L-alpha phosphatidylcholine (DMPC) liposome membrane at the different depths of 7.8, 16.95, and 27.7 angstrom were 222.53, 64.09, and 62.56 cP, respectively. In the gel state (10 degrees C), those microviscosity values increased to 472.56, 370.61, and 243.37 cP. In a second time, we have applied this technique to determine the modifications in membrane microviscosity induced by 2,6-diisopropyl phenol (propofol; PPF), an anaesthetic agent extensively used in clinical practice. Propofol is characterized by a unique phenolic structure, absent in the other conventional anaesthetics. Indeed, given its lipophilic property, propofol is presumed to penetrate into and interact with membrane lipids and hence to induce changes in membrane fluidity. Incorporation of propofol into dimyristoyl-L-alpha phosphatidylcholine liposomes above the phase-transition temperature (23.9 degrees C) did not change microviscosity. At 10 degrees C, an increase of propofol concentration from 0 to 1.0 x 10(-2) M for a constant lipid concentration mainly induced a decrease in microviscosity. This fluidity effect of propofol has been qualitatively confirmed using merocyanine 540 (MC540) as lipid packing probe. Above 10-2 M propofol, no further decrease in microviscosity was observed, and the microviscosity at the studied depths (7.8, 16.95, and 27.7 angstrom) amounted 260.21, 123.87, and 102.27 cP, respectively. The concentration 10(-2) M was identified as the saturation limit of propofol in dimyristoyl-L-alpha phosphatidylcholine liposomes. (c) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.