, Volume 93, Issue 4, pp 307-315

Biomineralization Mechanisms: A New Paradigm for Crystal Nucleation in Organic Matrices

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Abstract

There is substantial practical interest in the mechanism by which the carbonated apatite of bone mineral can be initiated specifically in a matrix. The current literature is replete with studies aimed at mimicking the properties of vertebrate bone, teeth, and other hard tissues by creating organic matrices that can be mineralized in vitro and either functionally substitute for bone on a permanent basis or serve as a temporary structure that can be replaced by normal remodeling processes. A key element in this is mineralization of an implant with the matrix and mineral arranged in the proper orientations and relationships. This review examines the pathway to crystallization from a supersaturated calcium phosphate solution in vitro, focusing on the basic mechanistic questions concerning mineral nucleation and growth. Since bone and dentin mineral forms within collagenous matrices, we consider how the in vitro crystallization mechanisms might or might not be applicable to understanding the in vivo processes of biomineralization in bone and dentin. We propose that the pathway to crystallization from the calcium phosphate–supersaturated tissue fluids involves the formation of a dense liquid phase of first-layer bound-water hydrated calcium and phosphate ions in which the crystallization is nucleated. SIBLING proteins and their in vitro analogs, such as polyaspartic acids, have similar dense liquid first-layer bound-water surfaces which interact with the dense liquid calcium phosphate nucleation clusters and modulate the rate of crystallization within the bone and dentin collagen fibril matrix.

The authors have stated that they have no conflict of interest.