Effect of Statins on the Nanomechanical Properties of Supported Lipid Bilayers
Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
Many drugs and other xenobiotics may reach systemic concentrations where they interact not only with the proteins that are their therapeutic targets but also modify the physicochemical properties of the cell membrane, which may lead to altered function of many transmembrane proteins beyond the intended targets. These changes in bilayer properties may contribute to nonspecific, promiscuous changes in membrane protein and cell function because membrane proteins are energetically coupled to their host lipid bilayer. It is thus important, for both pharmaceutical and biophysical reasons, to understand the bilayer-modifying effect of amphiphiles (including therapeutic agents). Here we use atomic force microscopy topography imaging and nanomechanical mapping to monitor the effect of statins, a family of hypolipidemic drugs, on synthetic lipid membranes. Our results reveal that statins alter the nanomechanical stability of the bilayers and increase their elastic moduli depending on the lipid bilayer order. Our results also suggest that statins increase bilayer heterogeneity, which may indicate that statins form nanometer-sized aggregates in the membrane. This is further evidence that changes in bilayer nanoscale mechanical properties may be a signature of lipid bilayer-mediated effects of amphiphilic drugs.