The Journal of Membrane Biology

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 233–250 | Cite as

Theory of lipid monolayer and bilayer phase transitions: Effect of headgroup interactions

  • J. F. Nagle


Headgroup and soft core interactions are added to a lipid monolayer-bilayer model and the surface pressure-area phase diagrams are calculated. The results show that quite small headgroup interactions can have biologically significant effects on the transition temperature and the phase diagram. In particular, the difference in transition temperatures of lecithins and phosphatidyl ethanolamines is easy to reproduce in the model. The phosphatidic acid systems seem to require weak transient hydrogen bonding which is also conjectured to play a role in most of the lipid systems. By a simple surface free energy argument it is shown that monolayers under a surface pressure of 50 dynes/cm should behave as bilayers, in agreement with experiment. Although the headgroup interactions are biologically very significant, in fundamental studies of the main phase transition in lipids they are secondary in importance to the hydrocarbon chain interactions (including the excluded volume interaction, the rotational isomerism, and the attractive van der Waals interaction).


Lecithin Phosphatidyl Ethanolamine Surface Free Energy Phosphatidic Acid Soft Core 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. F. Nagle
    • 1
  1. 1.Physics and Biological Sciences DepartmentsCarnegie-Mellon UniversityPittsburgh

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