Location of Solvated Probe Molecules Within Nonionic Surfactant Micelles Using Molecular Dynamics

Dallas B. Warren, Emma McPhee, Woldeamanuel A. Birru, Hassan Benameur, David K. Chalmers, Colin W. Pouton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


An iconic textbook that pharmaceutical scientists encounter in undergraduate courses is “Martin's Physical Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.” Within the chapter on Colloids, a figure indicates the location of solubilization of molecules within spherical, nonionic surfactant micelles. The surfactant consists of polyethylene glycol (PEG) hydrophilic headgroups and alkane chains for the hydrophobic tail. The figure shows benzene and toluene within the alkane core, salicylic acid (2-hydroxybenzoic acid) at the interface between the core and PEG chains, and then para-hydroxybenzoic acid (4-hydroxybenzoic acid) located between the PEG chains. Molecular dynamics simulations of octaethylene glycol monododecyl ether micelles were performed with a series of probe molecules, including those within the Martin's figure, to determine their solubilization location. Relative placement of molecules within the micelle was correct; however, some specifics were different. In particular, benzene and toluene are excluded from the core, and 4-hydroxybenzoic acid prefers to maintain contact with the core. A series of molecules containing 6 carbon atoms were also studied to determine the effects of cyclization (moves out of core), polar functionalization (anchored to interface), and aromatization (excluded from central core). Molecular dynamics was found to be a useful tool for gaining insight into interactions important in solubilization of molecules.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-213
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • colloid(s)
  • drug-delivery system(s)
  • drug-excipient interaction(s)
  • forcefield
  • in silico modeling
  • micelle(s)
  • molecular dynamics
  • solubilization
  • surfactant(s)

Cite this