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Vitamin E location in membranes suggests functions beyond anti-oxidant


Vitamin E location in membranes suggests functions beyond anti-oxidant
11 Jun 2004

The distribution of alpha-tocopherol in membranes suggests that it possesses functions besides that of an anti-oxidant.

According to recent research from England, "Vitamin E acts as an anti-oxidant and stabilizer of membranes. Other functions of vitamin E unrelated to its effects on membranes are emerging. Vitamin E partitions into the lipid bilayer matrix of membranes. It orients perpendicularly to the plane of the membrane with the hydroxyl group pointing to the lipid-water interface."

"The vitamin is not randomly distributed in the plane of the membrane but tends to form clusters," said P. J. Quinn at King's College London. "These clusters appear to be composed of vitamin E and phosphatidylholine in a stoichiometry of about one vitamin E per 10 phospholipid molecules.

"Vitamin E partitions into domains of phosphatidylcholine in model membranes formed from mixtures of phosphatidylholine and phosphatidylethanolamine irrespective of whether the phosphatidylholine is in the fluid or gel phase. The creation of domains enriched in vitamin E in membranes is not consistent with an antioxidant function and effects on membrane structure and stability indicate other roles of the vitamin."

Quinn published his study in Biochemistry - Moscow (Is the distribution of alpha-tocopherol in membranes consistent with its putative functions? Biochemistry-Engl Tr, 2004;69(1):58-66).

For additional information, contact P. J. Quinn, Department of Life Sciences, King's College London, 150 Stamford Street, London SE1 9NN, England. E-mail:

Publisher contact information for the journal Biochemistry - Moscow is: Maik Nauka, Interperiodica, c/o Kluwer Academic-Plenum Publishers, 233 Spring Street, New York, NY 10013-1578, USA.

The information in this article comes under the major subject areas of Endocrinology, Anti-Oxidant, and Lipid Studies. This article was prepared by Biotech Law Weekly editors from staff and other reports. Copyright 2004, Biotech Law Weekly via

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