What are Phospholipids?

What are Phospholipids?

Published by BroadPharm on October 15, 2021

What are Phospholipids?

Phospholipid, also known as phosphatide, is an amphiphilic molecule containing hydrophobic fatty acid tails and a hydrophilic phosphate head connected by glycerol. The phosphate group can be attached with various chemical moieties, such as serine, ethanolamine, choline, glycerol, inositol, and polyethylene glycol (PEG) as shown in Figure 1.

Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphate (DLPA)
Figure 1. Phospholipid - 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphate (DLPA).

Phospholipids are found abundantly in cell membranes. Because of their amphiphilic and the 'cylinder-shaped' characteristics, phospholipids can self-assemble to form lipid bilayers spontaneously in aqueous solution. The most favorable arrangement is the hydrophilic heads (from phosphate group) facing the water at each surface of the bilayer and the hydrophobic tails from the fatty acids being shielded from the water in the interior (Figure 2).

phospholipid aqueous solution
Figure 2. Lipid bilayer in aqueous solution.

Applications of Phospholipids

Due to their importance in biological roles, phospholipids exhibit a property of very low toxicity. Furthermore, the possibility of various head group modifications leads to the wide use of phospholipids in diverse formulations in pharmaceutical or medicine. From a pharmaceutical perspective, phospholipids are used as vehicles or excipients for delivering therapeutics via parenteral, topical, and oral administration (Figure 3). For example, phospholipids are used to prepare liposomes for drug targeting with slow release, such as anticancer doxorubicin liposomal or lipid-based gene therapy - mRNA vaccine. Additionally for oral administration, phospholipids are used to suppress gastrointestinal (GI) side effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) by using them as solubilizers to enhance oral absorption of these poorly water-soluble compounds.

phospholipid liposomes
Figure 3. Liposomes as key excipients for parenteral, topical and oral therapeutics administration.

Lipid supplier and Custom Synthesis

As a leading phospholipids supplier worldwide, BroadPharm offers a wide array of phospholipid products, such as DLPA, DMPA, DPPA, DSPA, DSPE, phospholipid-PEG etc. to our clients worldwide. BroadPharm also provides fast speed custom synthesis of novel phospholipids to empower your advanced research. Please call 1-858-677-6760 or email to sales@broadpharm.com.