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Definition of amphipathic

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The amphiphilic molecules, also known as amphipathic, is a term used in cellular and molecular biology to identify a type of molecules that have ambiguous character since they have the property of dissolving in water at the same time, curiously repel water.

There are several molecules with these characteristics. At FastlyHeal, we explain in detail the Definition of amphipathic, and we give you some examples to understand this concept clearly.

Amphipathic concept

A molecule that has a water-soluble end, known as hydrophilic, is linked by a hydrocarbon chain with another lot that is insoluble in water, that is, hydrophobic. The curiosity of amphiphilic molecules is that they are long enough for each end to show its solubility characteristics.

This type of amphipathic molecules, which simultaneously have polar or hydrophilic groups and nonpolar or hydrophobic groups, can be dispersed by water or become soluble in it, which gives rise to three different structures in the presence of water:

  • Monolayers: they are formed in the air-water phase as the insoluble molecular tails are oriented towards the air and the soluble ones towards the water.
  • Micelles: these are included in the aqueous medium, ensuring that the hydrophobic tails are inwards while the soluble seats remain on the surface and in contact with the water. An excellent example of this type of structure is what happens with detergent or soaps since the same molecule adheres on one side to water while on the other, it adheres to the dirt particles present.
  • Bilayers: these are two superimposed monolayers joined by their hydrophobic zone.

Examples of amphiphilic molecules

In addition to soaps and detergents, which we have mentioned in the previous section as an excellent example of amphipathic molecules, we can also say phospholipids are composed of two fatty acids at their insoluble ends. In contrast, at the soluble end, they have an acid with phosphorus attached to glycerol. Phospholipids are an essential component of cell membranes.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

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