• cell membrane models;
  • cholesterol;
  • confinement effects;
  • lecithin;
  • melatonin;
  • reversed micelles

Abstract:  The state of melatonin confined in dry cholesterol/lecithin mixed reversed micelles dispersed in CCl4 was investigated using 1H-NMR and FT-IR spectroscopies as a function of the melatonin to lecithin molar ratio (RMLT) and of the cholesterol to lecithin molar ratio (RCHL). An analysis of experimental results leads to the hypothesis that, independent of RMLT and as a consequence of anisotropic melatonin/lecithin, melatonin/cholesterol and cholesterol/lecithin interactions, melatonin is totally solubilized in reversed micelles. Melatonin is mainly located in and oriented in the nanodomain constituted by the hydrophilic groups of cholesterol and lecithin. A competition of melatonin and cholesterol for the hydrophilic binding sites of the reversed micelles was observed by changing the RCHL. Some possible biological implications of the specific interactions governing the solubilization process, the preferential location and the peculiar properties of melatonin confined in cholesterol/lecithin mixed reversed micelles are discussed.