The dielectric constant of phospholipid bilayers and the permeability of membranes to ions

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Science  07 Dec 1979:
Vol. 206, Issue 4423, pp. 1196-1198
DOI: 10.1126/science.228394


The Born charging equation predicts that the permeability of a phospholipid bilayer membrane to ions should depend markedly on the dielectric constant of the membrane. Increasing the dielectric constant of an artificial bilayer increases its permeability to perchlorate or thiocyanate by a factor of 1000, to a value comparable to that of mitochondrial membranes.