Soft Matter 2019 Sep;15(36):7295-7304
Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, Centre for Materials and Costal Research, Institute of Materials Research, Max-Planck-Straße 1, 21502 Geesthacht, Germany.
The molecular mechanisms responsible for outstanding lubrication of natural systems, like articular joints, have been the focus of scientific research for several decades. One essential aspect is the lubrication under pressure, where it is important to understand how the lubricating entities adapt under dynamic working conditions in order to fulfill their function. We made a structural investigation of a model system consisting of two of the molecules present at the cartilage interface, 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine and hyaluronan, at high hydrostatic pressure. Phospholipid layers are found at the cartilage surfaces and are able to considerably reduce friction. Their behavior under load and varied solution conditions is important as pressures of 180 bar are encountered during daily life activities. We focus on how divalent ions, like Ca2+, affect the interaction between DPPC and hyaluronan, as other investigations have indicated that calcium ions influence their interaction. It could be shown that already low amounts of Ca2+ strongly influence the interaction of hyaluronan with DPPC. Our results suggest that the calcium ions increase the amount of adsorbed hyaluronan indicating an increased electrostatic interaction. Most importantly, we observe a modification of the DPPC phase diagram as hyaluronan absorbs to the bilayer which results in an Lα-like structure at low temperatures and a decoupling of the leaflets forming an asymmetric bilayer structure.