Organic and inorganic osmolytes at lipid membrane interfaces

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This chapter discusses the interactions of organic osmolytes and membranous interfaces, and the effects of these interactions on the properties of the membrane. It also includes a treatment of inorganic ions at the membrane interface since osmolyte effects involve a balance between organic and inorganic components. Before turning to the physicochemical discussion of interfacial interactions, the chapter outlines some central parts of the biology and biotechnology of organic osmolytes. It reviews the central relationships in preferential interaction theory, which we use in subsequent paragraphs on membrane–osmolyte interactions. The physical properties of lipid membranes are strongly affected by the presence of “foreign molecules”—that is, components other than water and lipids—at the interface. In many cases, the solute-induced perturbations are rather complex and cannot be rationalized on the basis of traditional membrane–water partitioning schemes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStructure and Dynamics of Membranous Interfaces
EditorsK. Nag
Number of pages40
Publication date2008
ISBN (Print)978-0-470-11631-9
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Inorganic osmolytes
  • Lipid membrane interfaces
  • Membrane–osmolyte interactions
  • Membranes interface
  • Organic osmolytes
  • Preferential interaction theory
  • Preferential interactions


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