Study of the aggregation of human insulin langmuir monolayer

Wei Liu, Sheba Johnson, Miodrag Micic, Jhony Orbulescu, Jeffrey Whyte, Andrew R. Garcia, Roger M. Leblanc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The human insulin (HI) Langmuir monolayer at the air-water interface was systematically investigated in the presence and absence of Zn(II) ions in the subphase. HI samples were dissolved in acidic (pH 2) and basic (pH 9) aqueous solutions and then spread at the air-water interface. Spectroscopic data of aqueous solutions of HI show a difference in HI conformation at different pH values. Moreover, the dynamics of the insulin protein showed a dependence on the concentration of Zn(II) ions. In the absence of Zn(II) ions in the subphase, the acidic and basic solutions showed similar behavior at the air-water interface. In the presence of Zn(II) ions in the subphase, the surface pressure-area and surface potential-area isotherms suggest that HI may aggregate at the air-water interface. It was observed that increasing the concentration of Zn(II) ions in the acidic (pH 2) aqueous solution of HI led to an increase of the area at a specific surface pressure. It was also seen that the conformation of HI in the basic (pH 9) medium had a reverse effect (decrease in the surface area) with the increase of the concentration of Zn(II) ions in solution. From the compression-decompression cycles we can conclude that the aggregated HI film at air-water interface is not stable and tends to restore a monolayer of monomers. These results were confirmed from UV-vis and fluorescence spectroscopy analysis. Infrared reflection-absorption and circular dichroism spectroscopy techniques were used to determine the secondary structure and orientation changes of HI by zinc ions. Generally, the aggregation process leads to a conformation change from ?-helix to β-strand and β-turn, and at the air-water interface, the aggregation process was likewise seen to induce specific orientations for HI in the acidic and basic media. A proposed surface orientation model is presented here as an explanation to the experimental data, shedding light for further research on the behavior of insulin as a Langmuir monolayer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3369-3377
Number of pages9
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 21 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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