Cholesterol expels ibuprofen from the hydrophobic membrane core and stabilizes lamellar phases in lipid membranes containing ibuprofen
There is increasing evidence that common drugs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, interact with lipid membranes. Ibuprofen is one of the most common over the counter drugs in the world, and is used for relief of pain and fever. It interacts with the cyclooxygenase pathway leading to inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis. From X-ray diffraction of highly oriented model membranes containing between 0 and 20 mol% ibuprofen, 20 mol% cholesterol, and dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine (DMPC), we present evidence for a non-specific interaction between ibuprofen and cholesterol in lipid bilayers. At a low ibuprofen concentrations of 2 mol%, three different populations of ibuprofen molecules were found: two in the lipid head group region and one in the hydrophobic membrane core. At higher ibuprofen concentrations of 10 and 20 mol%, the lamellar bilayer structure is disrupted and a lamellar to cubic phase transition was observed. In the presence of 20 mol% cholesterol, ibuprofen (at 5 mol%) was found to be expelled from the membrane core and reside solely in the head group region of the bilayers. 20 mol% cholesterol was found to stabilize lamellar membrane structure and the formation of a cubic phase at 10 and 20 mol% ibuprofen was suppressed. The results demonstrate that ibuprofen interacts with lipid membranes and that the interaction is strongly dependent on the presence of cholesterol.