Salicylate causes membranes to thin, soften, rupture more easily
It’s well known that high doses of aspirin can cause ulcers and temporary deafness, but the biochemical mechanism responsible for these phenomena has never been deciphered. New research from Rice University offers clues, showing for the first time how salicylate -- an active metabolite of aspirin -- weakens lipid membranes. Researchers believe these mechanical changes disrupt the lining of the stomach, which functions to protect underlying tissue from the acidic contents of the gut. By a similar mechanism, the changes may result in aspirin-related deafness by interfering with the proper function of prestin, a transmembrane protein that’s critical for mammalian hearing. The study appears in the September issue of Biophysical Journal.
"Our studies found that membranes exposed to physiological concentrations of salicylate were thinner, more permeable, easier to bend and more likely to rupture," said study co-author Robert Raphael, the T.N. Law Assistant Professor of Bioengineering.
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