European Biophysics Journal

, Volume 33, Issue 8, pp 732–741 | Cite as

Vesicle fluctuation analysis of the effects of sterols on membrane bending rigidity



Sterols are regulators of both biological function and structure. The role of cholesterol in promoting the structural and mechanical stability of membranes is widely recognized. Knowledge of how the related sterols, lanosterol and ergosterol, affect membrane mechanical properties is sparse. This paper presents a comprehensive comparison of the effects of cholesterol, lanosterol, and ergosterol upon the bending elastic properties of 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine giant unilamellar vesicles. Measurements are made using vesicle fluctuation analysis, a nonintrusive technique that we have recently improved for determining membrane bending rigidity. Giving a detailed account of the vesicle fluctuation analysis technique, we describe how the gravitational stabilization of the vesicles enhances image contrast, vesicle yield, and the quality of data. Implications of gravity on vesicle behaviour are also discussed. These recent modifications render vesicle fluctuation analysis an efficient and accurate method for determining how cholesterol, lanosterol, and ergosterol increase membrane bending rigidity.


Lipid bilayer Mechanical properties Membrane elasticity 







Vesicle fluctuation analysis


Giant unilamellar vesicle


Thin layer chromatography


Electron paramagnetic resonance


Nuclear magnetic resonance


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Copyright information

© EBSA 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonas Henriksen
    • 1
  • Amy C. Rowat
    • 2
  • John H. Ipsen
    • 3
  1. 1.MEMPHYS Centre for Biomembrane Physics, Department of ChemistryTechnical University of DenmarkLyngbyDenmark
  2. 2.Department of PhysicsUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdenseDenmark
  3. 3.Department of ChemistryUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdenseDenmark

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