The Impact of Lipid Digestion on the Dynamic and Structural Properties of Micelles

Demi L. Pink, Fabrizia Foglia, David J. Barlow, M. Jayne Lawrence, Christian D. Lorenz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Self-assembled, lipid-based micelles, such as those formed by the short-chain phosphocholine, dihexanoylphosphatidylcholine (2C6PC), are degraded by the pancreatic enzyme, phospholipase A2 (PLA2). Degradation yields 1-hexanoyl-lysophosphocholine (C6LYSO) and hexanoic acid (C6FA) products. However, little is known about the behavior of these products during and after the degradation of 2C6PC. In this work, a combination of static and time-resolved small angle neutron scattering, as well as all-atom molecular dynamics simulations, is used to characterize the structure of 2C6PC micelles. In doing so a detailed understanding of the substrate and product aggregation behavior before, during and after degradation is gained. Consequently, the formation of mixed micelles containing 2C6PC, C6LYSO and C6FA is shown at every stage of the degradation process, as well as the formation of mixed C6LYSO/C6FA micelles after degradation is complete. The use of atomistic molecular dynamics has allowed us to characterize the structure of 2C6PC, 2C6PC/C6LYSO/C6FA, and C6LYSO/C6FA micelles throughout the degradation process, showing the localization of the different molecular species within the aggregates. In addition, the hydration of the 2C6PC, C6LYSO, and C6FA species both during micellization and as monomers in aqueous solution is documented to reveal the processes driving their micellization.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2004761
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2021


  • drug delivery vehicles
  • lipid digestion
  • lipid micelles
  • molecular dynamics simulations
  • phosphocholine lipids
  • small-angle neutron scattering


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