Publications : 2014

Lancaster JL, Antonijevic T, Starobin JM. 2014. Ordering and stability in lipid droplets with applications to low-density lipoproteins. Physical Review E89(6):062708.


In this article, we present a framework for investigating the order-disorder transition in lipid droplets using the standard Ising model. While a single lipid droplet is itself a complex system whose constituent cholesteryl esters each possesses many degrees of freedom, we present justification for using this effective approach to isolate the underlying physics. It is argued that the behavior of the esters confined within lipid droplets is significantly different from that of a bulk system of similar esters, which is adequately described by continuum mean-field theory in the thermodynamic limit. When the droplet’s shell is modeled as an elastic membrane, a simple picture emerges for a transition between two ordered phases within the core which is tuned by the strength of interactions between the esters. Triglyceride concentration is proposed as a variable which strongly influences the strength of interactions between cholesteryl esters within droplets. The possible relevance of this mechanism to the well known atherogenic nature of small low-density lipoprotein particles is discussed in detail.