The interaction of styrene maleic acid copolymers with phospholipids in Langmuir monolayers, vesicles and nanodiscs; a structural study

Stephen C.L. Hall, Cecilia Tognoloni, Richard A. Campbell, Joanna Richens, Paul O'Shea, Ann E. Terry, Gareth J. Price, Tim R. Dafforn, Karen J. Edler, Thomas Arnold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (SciVal)


Hypothesis: Self-assembly of amphipathic styrene maleic acid copolymers with phospholipids in aqueous solution results in the formation of ‘nanodiscs’ containing a planar segment of phospholipid bilayer encapsulated by a polymer belt. Recently, studies have reported that lipids rapidly exchange between both nanodiscs in solution and external sources of lipids. Outstanding questions remain regarding details of polymer-lipid interactions, factors influencing lipid exchange and structural effects of such exchange processes. Here, the dynamic behaviour of nanodiscs is investigated, specifically the role of membrane charge and polymer chemistry. Experiments: Two model systems are investigated: fluorescently labelled phospholipid vesicles, and Langmuir monolayers of phospholipids. Using fluorescence spectroscopy and time-resolved neutron reflectometry, the membrane potential, monolayer structure and composition are monitored with respect to time upon polymer and nanodisc interactions. Findings: In the presence of external lipids, polymer chains embed throughout lipid membranes, the extent of which is governed by the net membrane charge. Nanodiscs stabilised by three different polymers will all exchange lipids and polymer with monolayers to differing extents, related to the properties of the stabilising polymer belt. These results demonstrate the dynamic nature of nanodiscs which interact with the local environment and are likely to deposit both lipids and polymer at all stages of use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-236
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
Early online date31 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2022


  • Adsorption
  • Langmuir monolayer
  • Lipid Exchange
  • Nanodisc
  • Neutron reflectometry
  • Polymer
  • Reversible, Addition−Fragmentation Chain-Transfer (RAFT)
  • Styrene Maleic Acid (SMA)
  • Styrene Maleic Acid Lipid Particle (SMALP)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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