The binding of doxorubicin to large unilamellar vesicles consisting of cardiolipin or other anionic phospholipids was analyzed in terms of the local drug concentration at the membrane surface, according to the Gouy-Chapman theory. The analysis suggests strong positive binding cooperativity. Part of the drug binds in the uncharged form. The affinity for cardiolipin and other anionic phospholipids is comparable. A binding level of 0.5 doxorubicin per lipid-phosphorus is reached when the local concentration of free doxorubicin monomer-equivalents at the membrane surface is about 0.2–0.7 mM. This contrasts with earlier findings indicating a 300–1000 fold higher affinity for cardiolipin. The present analysis provides an explanation for this apparent discrepancy.

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