• Elucidation of a mechanism of cell lysis by chorhexidine : a biophysical approach

      Komljenovic, Ivana; Department of Physics (2012-04-03)
      Chlorhexidine is an effective antiseptic used widely in disinfecting products (hand soap), oral products (mouthwash), and is known to have potential applications in the textile industry. Chlorhexidine has been studied extensively through a biological and biochemical lens, showing evidence that it attacks the semipermeable membrane in bacterial cells. Although extremely lethal to bacterial cells, the present understanding of the exact mode of action of chlorhexidine is incomplete. A biophysical approach has been taken to investigate the potential location of chlorhexidine in the lipid bilayer. Deuterium nuclear magnetic resonance was used to characterize the molecular arrangement of mixed phospholipid/drug formulations. Powder spectra were analyzed using the de-Pake-ing technique, a method capable of extracting both the orientation distribution and the anisotropy distribution functions simultaneously. The results from samples of protonated phospholipids mixed with deuterium-labelled chlorhexidine are compared to those from samples of deuterated phospholipids and protonated chlorhexidine to determine its location in the lipid bilayer. A series of neutron scattering experiments were also conducted to study the biophysical interaction of chlorhexidine with a model phospholipid membrane of DMPC, a common saturated lipid found in bacterial cell membranes. The results found the hexamethylene linker to be located at the depth of the glycerol/phosphate region of the lipid bilayer. As drug concentration was increased in samples, a dramatic decrease in bilayer thickness was observed. Differential scanning calorimetry experiments have revealed a depression of the DMPC bilayer gel-to-lamellar phase transition temperature with an increasing drug concentration. The enthalpy of the transition remained the same for all drug concentrations, indicating a strictly drug/headgroup interaction, thus supporting the proposed location of chlorhexidine. In combination, these results lead to the hypothesis that the drug is folded approximately in half on its hexamethylene linker, with the hydrophobic linker at the depth of the glycerol/phosphate region of the lipid bilayer and the hydrophilic chlorophenyl groups located at the lipid headgroup. This arrangement seems to suggest that the drug molecule acts as a wedge to disrupt the bilayer. In vivo, this should make the cell membrane leaky, which is in agreement with a wide range of bacteriological observations.