Thioridazine is a well-known dopamine-antagonist drug with a wide range of pharmacological properties ranging from neuroleptic to antimicrobial and even anticancer activity. Thioridazine is a critical component of a promising multi-drug therapy against M. tuberculosis. Amongst the various proposed mechanisms of action, the cell membrane-mediated one is peculiarly tempting due to the distinctive feature of phenothiazine drug family to accumulate in selected body tissues. In this study, we employ long-scale molecular dynamics simulations to investigate the interactions of three different concentrations of thioridazine with zwitterionic and negatively charged model lipid membranes. Thioridazine partitions into the interfacial region of membranes and modifies their structural and dynamic properties, however dissimilarly so at the highest membrane-occurring concentration, that appears to be obtainable only for the negatively charged bilayer. We show that the origin of such changes is the drug induced decrease of the interfacial tension, which ultimately leads to the significant membrane expansion. Our findings support the hypothesis that the phenothiazines therapeutic activity may arise from the drug-membrane interactions, and reinforce the wider, emerging view of action of many small, bioactive compounds.
Journal of Computer - Aided Molecular Design, 2014, Vol 28, Issue 2, p. 123-34