Does membrane curvature elastic energy play a role in mediating oxidative stress in lipid membranes?

Julia Bahja, Marcus Dymond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effects of oxidative stress on cells are associated with a wide range of pathologies. Oxidative stress is predominantly initiated by the action of reactive oxygen species and/or lipoxygenases on polyunsaturated fatty acid containing lipids. The downstream products are oxidised phospholipids, bioactive aldehydes and a range of Schiff base by-products between aldehydes and lipids, or other biomacromolecules. In this review we assess the impact of oxidative stress on lipid membranes, focusing on the changes that occur to the curvature preference (lipid spontaneous curvature) and elastic properties of membranes, since these biophysical properties modulate phospholipid homeostasis. Studies show that the lipid products of oxidative stress reduce stored curvature elastic energy in membranes. Based upon this observation, we hypothesize that the effects of oxidative stress on lipid membranes will be reduced by compounds that increase stored curvature elastic energy. We find a strong correlation appears across literature studies that we have reviewed, such that many compounds like vitamin E, Curcumin, Coenzyme Q10 and vitamin A show behaviour consistent with this hypothesis. Finally, we consider whether age-related changes in lipid composition represent the homeostatic response of cells to compensate for the accumulation of in vivo lipid oxidation products.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-202
Number of pages12
JournalFree Radical Biology & Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2021


  • Curvature elastic energy
  • Curvature elastic stress
  • Intrinsic curvature hypothesis
  • Lipid oxidation
  • Membrane curvature
  • Oxidative stress


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