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2012 | 59 | 1 | 31-33
Article title

Exceptional molecular organization of canthaxanthin in lipid membranes

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Canthaxanthin (β,β-carotene 4,4' dione) used widely as a drug or as a food and cosmetic colorant may have some undesirable effects on human health, caused mainly by the formation of crystals in the macula lutea membranes of the retina of an eye. Experiments show the exceptional molecular organization of canthaxanthin and a strong effect of this pigment on the physical properties of lipid membranes. The most striking difference between canthaxanthin and other macular pigments is that the effects of canthaxanthin at a molecular level are observed at much lower concentration of this pigment with respect to lipid (as low as 0.05 mol%). An analysis of the molecular interactions of canthaxanthin showed molecular mechanisms such as: strong van der Waals interactions between the canthaxanthin molecule and the acyl chains of lipids, restrictions to the segmental molecular motion of lipid molecules, modifications of the surface of the lipid membranes, effect on the membrane thermotropic properties and finally interactions based on the formation of the hydrogen bonds. Such interactions can lead to a destabilization of the membrane and loss of membrane compactness. In the case of the retinal vasculature, it can lead to an increase in the permeability of the retinal capillary walls and the development of retinopathy.
Physical description
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