Vesicle deformation by draining : geometrical and topological shape changes

A.J. Markvoort, P. Spijker, A.F. Smeijers, K. Pieterse, R.A. Santen, van, P.A.J. Hilbers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


A variety of factors, including changes in temperature or osmotic pressure, can trigger morphological transitions of vesicles. Upon osmotic upshift, water diffuses across the membrane in response to the osmotic difference, resulting in a decreased vesicle volume to membrane area ratio and, consequently, a different shape. In this paper, we study the vesicle deformations on osmotic deflation using coarse grained molecular dynamics simulations. Simple deflation of a spontaneously formed spherical vesicle results in oblate ellipsoid and discous vesicles. However, when the hydration of the lipids in the outer membrane leaflet is increased, which can be the result of a changed pH or ion concentration, prolate ellipsoid, pear-shaped and budded vesicles are formed. Under certain conditions the deflation even results in vesicle fission. The simulations also show that vesicles formed by a bilayer to vesicle transition are, although spontaneously formed, not immediately stress-free. Instead, the membrane is stretched during the final stage of the transition and only reaches equilibrium once the excess interior water has diffused across the membrane. This suggests the presence of residual membrane stress immediately after vesicle closure in experimental vesicle formation and is especially important for MD simulations of vesicles where the time scale to reach equilibrium is out of reach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8731-8737
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number25
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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