Quercetin (QCT), existing in common dietary sources, is an abundant bioflavonoid with planar structure and exerts multiple pharmacological effects. Herein, four kinds of liposomes were prepared as model biomembranes, and then the partition coefficient, distribution in lipid membrane and influence of the QCT on the membrane properties were evaluated. The partition of QCT to lipid membranes was affected by both membrane phase state and the interference of QCT on membrane properties. The location of QCT in lipid membrane was related to the phase state of lipid membrane. In addition, influence of QCT on the compaction of the hydrocarbon tail in lipid membranes was dependent on the unsaturation degree of lipid molecules. Finally, about its antioxidant activity, from the results of 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl radical scavenging assay, it can be concluded that the interaction of QCT with lipid membrane greatly influences on QCT reductive activity in lipid membrane. Furthermore, mass spectrometry of DOPC molecule showed no lipid oxidation in the presence of QCT, indicating that in addition to the QCT ability toward radical scavenging, the ordering effect of QCT in unsaturated lipid membrane would be helpful to protect lipid membrane from oxidation by inhibiting radical diffusion (synergy effect). Based on lipid membrane analysis, our study made it clear that the effect of QCT on various lipid membrane and its relation with the antioxidant effect of QCT within lipid membrane. Therefore, our analytical method and findings would be also helpful for understanding the mechanism of other antioxidants effects on biomembrane.
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