Conjugated double bonds in lipid bilayers: A molecular dynamics simulation study

Guijun Zhao, P. V. Subbaiah, See Wing Chiu, Eric Jakobsson, H. L. Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) are found naturally in dairy products. Two isomers of CLA, that differ only in the location of cis and trans double bonds, are found to have distinct and different biological effects. The cis 9 trans 11 (C9T11) isomer is attributed to have the anti-carcinogenic effects, while the trans 10 cis 12 (T10C12) isomer is believed to be responsible for the anti-obesity effects. Since dietary CLA are incorporated into membrane phospholipids, we have used Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations to investigate the comparative effects of the two isomers on lipid bilayer structure. Specifically, simulations of phosphatidylcholine lipid bilayers in which the sn-2 chains contained one of the two isomers of CLA were performed. Force field parameters for the torsional potential of double bonds were obtained from ab initio calculations. From the MD trajectories we calculated and compared structural properties of the two lipid bilayers, including areas per molecule, density profiles, thickness of bilayers, tilt angle of tail chains, order parameters profiles, radial distribution function (RDF) and lateral pressure profiles. The main differences found between bilayers of the two CLA isomers, are (1) the order parameter profile for C9T11 has a dip in the middle of sn-2 chain while the profile for T10C12 has a deeper dip close to terminal of sn-2 chain, and (2) the lateral pressure profiles show differences between the two isomers. Our simulation results reveal localized physical structural differences between bilayers of the two CLA isomers that may contribute to different biological effects through differential interactions with membrane proteins or cholesterol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-257
Number of pages7
JournalChemistry and Physics of Lipids
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Conjugated linoleic acids
  • Molecular dynamics simulations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Cell Biology


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