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Giant unilamellar vesicles: An efficient membrane biophysical tool and its application in drug delivery studies

Promotor: A. Kros

Nestor Lopez Mora
07 juli 2016
Thesis in Leiden Repository

Giant Unilamellar Vesicles (GUVs) are spherical assemblies of natural or synthetic lipids composed of a single lipid bilayer which separates the aqueous interior compartment from the exterior. Because of their “giant” size (5-100 µm) which allows the imaging of the lipid bilayer by optical microscopy, GUVs have been used as a minimal model system of the cellular membrane. Several protocols have been proposed to form GUVs at low salt concentrations; however, the study of biological interactions requires the use of biologically relevant salt concentrations. To tackle this drawback from traditional preparation methods, this thesis presents a new method, based on a chemically crosslinked hydrogel as a substrate for the growth of GUVs at relevant biological salt conditions. Furthermore, the physical chemical properties of this hydrogel network and the characterization of the final GUVs in terms of yield and size distribution are discussed in this work. Finally, GUVs are used as a biophysical platform for studying drug delivery and membrane fusion processes at biological salt concentrations. Overall, this work covers some biophysical aspects and applications of the GUV model applied at relevant biologically salt concentrations.

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