Document Type


Publication Date



The unassisted transport of inorganic ions through lipid membranes has become increasingly relevant to an expansive range of biological phenomena. Recent simulations indicate a strong influence of a lipid membrane’s curvature on its permeability, which may be part of the overall cell sensitivity to mechanical stimulation. However, most ionic permeability experiments employ a flat, uncurved lipid membrane, which disregards the physiological relevance of curvature on such investigations. To fill this gap in our knowledge, we adapted a traditional experimental system consisting of a planar lipid membrane, which we exposed to a controlled, differential hydrostatic pressure. Our electrophysiology experiments indicate a strong correlation between the changes in membrane geometry elicited by the application of pressure, as inferred from capacitance measurements, and the resulting conductance. Our experiments also confirmed the well-established influence of cholesterol addition to lipid membranes in adjusting their mechanical properties and overall permeability. Therefore, the proposed experimental system may prove useful for a better understanding of the intricate connections between membrane mechanics and adjustments of cellular functionalities upon mechanical stimulation, as well as for confirmation of predictions made by simulations and theoretical modeling.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Included in

Physics Commons