Red Blood Cell Lipids Form Immiscible Liquids

Phys. Rev. Lett. 81, 5019 – Published 30 November 1998
S. L. Keller, W. H. Pitcher, III, W. H. Huestis, and H. M. McConnell


Monolayers at the air-water interface were prepared from lipids extracted from human red blood cells. Epifluorescence microscopy was used to show that monolayers simulating the inner and outer leaflets of the red cell membrane form immiscible liquid phases with critical points at surface pressures of 21 and 29 dyn/cm. At these pressures the monolayer lipid density is comparable to that in the red cell membrane. This suggests that lipid bilayers of a red blood cell are near a miscibility critical point, which should significantly affect the biophysical properties of the red cell membrane.


  • Received 1 June 1998
  • Published in the issue dated 30 November 1998

© 1998 The American Physical Society

Authors & Affiliations

S. L. Keller*, W. H. Pitcher, III, W. H. Huestis, and H. M. McConnell

  • Department of Chemistry, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305

  • *Electronic address:
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