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Elucidating how bamboo salt interacts with supported lipid membranes: influence of alkalinity on membrane fluidity


Bamboo salt is a traditional medicine produced from sea salt. It is widely used in Oriental medicine and is an alkalizing agent with reported antiinflammatory, antimicrobial and chemotherapeutic properties. Notwithstanding, linking specific molecular mechanisms with these properties has been challenging to establish in biological systems. In part, this issue may be related to bamboo salt eliciting nonspecific effects on components found within these systems. Herein, we investigated the effects of bamboo salt solution on supported lipid bilayers as a model system to characterize the interaction between lipid membranes and bamboo salt. The atomic composition of unprocessed and processed bamboo salts was first analyzed by mass spectrometry, and we identified several elements that have not been previously reported in other bamboo salt preparations. The alkalinity of hydrated samples was also measured and determined to be between pH 10 and 11 for bamboo salts. The effect of processed bamboo salt solutions on the fluidic properties of a supported lipid bilayer on glass was next investigated by fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) analysis. It was demonstrated that, with increasing ionic strength of the bamboo salt solution, the fluidity of a lipid bilayer increased. On the contrary, increasing the ionic strength of near-neutral buffer solutions with sodium chloride salt diminished fluidity. To reconcile these two observations, we identified that solution alkalinity is critical for the effects of bamboo salt on membrane fluidity, as confirmed using three additional commercial bamboo salt preparations. Extended-DLVO model calculations support that the effects of bamboo salt on lipid membranes are due to the alkalinity imparting a stronger hydration force. Collectively, the results of this work demonstrate that processing of bamboo salt strongly affects its atomic composition and that the alkalinity of bamboo salt solutions contributes to its effect on membrane fluidity.

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Correspondence to Nam-Joon Cho.

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J. H. Jeong, J.-H. Choi and M. C. Kim contributed equally to this work.

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 2395 kb). More detailed information about the extended-DLVO model calculations (Table S1 and Figs. S6-S8) is provided along with QCM-D measurements (Fig. S1) and FRAP analysis (Figs. S2-S5)

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Jeong, J.H., Choi, JH., Kim, M.C. et al. Elucidating how bamboo salt interacts with supported lipid membranes: influence of alkalinity on membrane fluidity. Eur Biophys J 44, 383–391 (2015).

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  • Cell membrane
  • Lipid bilayer
  • Mobility
  • Monovalent cation
  • Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching