Cholesterol Extraction from Cell Membrane by Graphene Nanosheets: A Computational Study

LY Zhang and BQ Xu and XQ Wang, JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY B, 120, 957-964 (2016).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.5b10330

The health risk associated with high cholesterol levels in the human body has motivated intensive efforts to lower them by using specialized drugs. However, little research has been reported on utilizing nanomaterials to extract extra cholesterol from living tissues. Graphene possesses great potential for cholesterol extraction from cell membranes due to its distinct porous structure and outstanding surface adhesion. Here we employ dissipative dynamic simulations to explore pathways for cholesterol extraction from a cell membrane by a sheet of graphene using a coarse-grained graphene nanosheets (CGGN) model. We first demonstrate that the self-assembly process among a single layer of graphene and a group of randomly distributed cholesterol molecules in the aqueous environment, which provides a firm foundation for graphene cholesterol interactions and the dynamic cholesterol extraction process from the cell membrane. Simulations results show that graphene is capable of removing cholesterol molecules from the bilayer membrane. The interaction between graphene and cholesterol molecules plays an important role in determining the amount of extracted cholesterol molecules from the cell membrane. Our findings open up a promising avenue to exploit the capability of graphene for biomedical applications.

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