Lubrication synergy: Mixture of hyaluronan and dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC) vesicles


Phospholipids and hyaluronan have been implied to fulfil important roles in synovial joint lubrication. Since both components are present in synovial fluid, self-assembly structures formed by them should also be present. We demonstrate by small angle X-ray scattering that hyaluronan associates with the outer shell of dipalmitoylphophatidylcholine (DPPC) vesicles in bulk solution. Further, we follow adsorption to silica from mixed hyaluronan/DPPC vesicle solution by Quartz Crystal Microbalance with Dissipation measurements. Atomic Force Microscope imaging visualises the adsorbed layer structure consisting of non-homogeneous phospholipid bilayer with hyaluronan/DPPC aggregates on top. The presence of these aggregates generates a long-range repulsive surface force as two such surfaces are brought together. However, the aggregates are easily deformed, partly rearranged into multilayer structures and partly removed from between the surfaces under high loads. These layers offer very low friction coefficient (<0.01), high load bearing capacity (≈23 MPa), and self-healing ability. Surface bound DPPC/hyaluronan aggregates provide a means for accumulation of lubricating DPPC molecules on sliding surfaces.
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