Self-assembled structures and pKa value of oleic acid in systems of biological relevance

Stefan Johannes Salentinig, Laurent Sagalowicz, Otto Glatter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

182 Citations (Scopus)


In the human digestion process, triglycerides are hydrolyzed by lipases to monogycerides and the corresponding fatty acids. Here we report the self-assembly of structures in biologicallyrelevant, emulsified oleic acid-monoolein mixtures at various pH values and oleic acid entrations. Small-angle X-ray scattering, cryogenic transmission electron microscopy, and dynamic light scattering were used to investigate the structures formed, and to follow their transitions while these factors were varied. The addition of oleic acid to monoolein-based cubosomes was found to increase the critical packing parameter in the system. Structural transitions from bicontinuous cubosomes through hexosomes and micellar cubosomes (Fd3m symmetry) to emulsified microemulsions occur with increasing oleic acid concentration. At sufficiently high oleic acid concentration, the internal particle structure was also found to strongly depend on the pH of the aqueous phase: transformations from emulsified microemulsion through micellar cubosomes, hexosomes, and bicontinuous cubosomes to vesicles can be observed as a function of increasing pH. The reversible transition from liquid crystals to vesicles occurs at intestinal pH values (between pH 7and 8). The hydrodynamic radius of the particles decreases from around 120nmfor internally structured particles to around 60 nm for vesicles. All transitions withpH are reversible. Finally, the apparent pK a for oleic acid in monoolein could be determined from the change of structure with pH. This value is within the physiological pH range of the intestine and depends somewhat on composition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11670 - 11679
Number of pages10
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

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