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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Plant fructans stabilize phosphatidylcholine liposomes during freeze-drying.

Fructans have been implicated as protective agents in the drought and freezing tolerance of many plant species. A direct proof of their ability to stabilize biological structures under stress conditions, however, is still lacking. Here we show that inulins (linear fructose polymers) isolated from chicory roots and dahlia tubers stabilize egg phosphatidylcholine large unilamellar vesicles during freeze-drying, while another polysaccharide, hydroxyethyl starch, was completely ineffective. Liposome stability was assessed after rehydration by measuring retention of the soluble fluorescent dye carboxyfluorescein and bilayer fusion. Inulin was an especially effective stabilizer in combination with glucose. Analysis by HPLC showed that the commercial inulin preparations used in our study contained no low molecular mass sugars that could be responsible for the observed stabilizing effect of the fructans. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy showed a reduction of the gel to liquid-crystalline phase transition temperature of dry egg PtdCho by more than 20 degrees C in the presence of inulin. A direct interaction of inulin with the phospholipid in the dry state was also indicated by dramatic differences in the phosphate asymmetric stretch region of the infrared spectrum between samples with and without the polysaccharide.[1]


  1. Plant fructans stabilize phosphatidylcholine liposomes during freeze-drying. Hincha, D.K., Hellwege, E.M., Heyer, A.G., Crowe, J.H. Eur. J. Biochem. (2000) [Pubmed]
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