Temperature-Dependent Lipid Extraction from Membranes by Boron Nitride Nanosheets

Zhen Li, Yonghui Zhang, Chun Chan, Chunyi Zhi*, Xiaolin Cheng, Jun Fan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Two-dimensional (2D) materials can mechanically insert into cell membranes and extract lipids out, thus leading to the destruction of cell integrity. On the one hand, the cytotoxicity of 2D materials can be harnessed in surface engineering to resist biofouling, and on the other hand, it causes great concern with in vivo biomedical applications ranging from drug delivery to nanoimaging. To understand the nature of this cytotoxic behavior and find strategies to control it, we performed molecular dynamics (MD) simulations on the lipid extraction of hexagonal boron nitride (BN) nanosheets from lipid membranes. Interestingly, we observed that the lipid extraction behavior suddenly disappears as temperature decreases. Structural analyses revealed that this temperature dependence is related to the lipid membrane phase transition, which was confirmed by an additional membrane model with phase state regulated by cholesterol. The potential of mean force calculation was adopted to clarify the thermodynamic origin of these results, which also indicates directions to adjust the lipid extraction behavior of nanomaterials. Overall, this work suggests that the cytotoxic mechanical interactions between 2D materials and cell membranes can be controlled by temperature and other factors which can induce phase transitions of lipid membranes and that the thermodynamic threshold of the lipid extraction varies for surfaces with different curvature. This work clarifies the thermodynamics in the lipid extraction phenomenon of 2D materials and indicates possible strategies to adjust the antibacterial performance or cytotoxicity of 2D materials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2764-2772
Number of pages9
JournalACS Nano
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


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