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Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is frequently used as a solvent in biological studies and as a vehicle for drug therapy; but the side effects of DMSO, especially on the cell environment, are not well understood, and controls with DMSO are not neutral at higher concentrations. Herein, electrochemical measurement techniques are applied to show that DMSO increases exocytotic neurotransmitter release, while leaving vesicular contents unchanged. In addition, the kinetics of release from DMSO-treated cells are faster than that of untreated ones. The results suggest that DMSO has a significant influence on the chemistry of the cell membrane, leading to alteration of exocytosis. A speculative chemical mechanism of the effect on the fusion pore during exocytosis is presented. © 2017 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.


Soodabeh Majdi, Neda Najafinobar, Johan Dunevall, Jelena Lovric, Andrew G Ewing. DMSO Chemically Alters Cell Membranes to Slow Exocytosis and Increase the Fraction of Partial Transmitter Released. Chembiochem : a European journal of chemical biology. 2017 Oct 05;18(19):1898-1902

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PMID: 28834067

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