Partitioning of homologous nicotinic acid ester prodrugs (nicotinates) into dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC) membrane bilayers

Vivian Ojogun, Sandhya M. Vyas, Hans Joachim Lehmler, Barbara L. Knutson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The partitioning behavior of a series of perhydrocarbon nicotinic acid esters (nicotinates) between aqueous solution and dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC) membrane bilayers is investigated as a function of increasing alkyl chain length. The hydrocarbon nicotinates represent putative prodrugs, derivatives of the polar drug nicotinic acid, whose functionalization provides the hydrophobic character necessary for pulmonary delivery in a hydrophobic, fluorocarbon solvent, such as perfluorooctyl bromide. Independent techniques of differential scanning calorimetry and 1,6-diphenyl-1,3,5-hexatriene (DPH) fluorescence anisotropy measurements are used to analyze the thermotropic phase behavior and lipid bilayer fluidity as a function of nicotinate concentration. At increasing concentrations of nicotinates over the DPPC mole fraction range examined (XDPPC=0.6-1.0), all the nicotinates (ethyl (C2H5); butyl (C4H9); hexyl (C6H13); and octyl (C8H17)) partition into the lipid bilayer at sufficient levels to eliminate the pretransition, and decrease and broaden the gel to fluid phase transition temperature. The concentration at which these effects occur is chain length-dependent; the shortest chain nicotinate, C2H5, elicits the least dramatic response. Similarly, the DPH anisotropy results demonstrate an alteration of the bilayer organization in the liposomes as a consequence of the chain length-dependent partitioning of the nicotinates into DPPC bilayers. The membrane partition coefficients (logarithm values), determined from the depressed bilayer phase transition temperatures, increase from 2.18 for C2H5 to 5.25 for C8H17. The DPPC membrane/water partitioning of the perhydrocarbon nicotinate series correlates with trends in the octanol/water partitioning of these solutes, suggesting that their incorporation into the bilayer is driven by increasing hydrophobicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-84
Number of pages10
JournalColloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH , grants ES07380 and ES012475 .


  • DPPC bilayers
  • Membrane partition coefficient
  • Perhydrocarbon nicotinate
  • Prodrug

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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