Nacre initiates biomineralization by human osteoblasts maintained In Vitro
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When nacreous shell produced by the marine oyster Pinctada maxima, used as a biomaterial in oral surgery, is implanted in human bone, new bone formation occurs, resulting in a tight welding of the bone to the nacre . These findings are consistent with the possibility that nacre adjacent to bone can locally stimulate osteogenic activity. To test this hypothesis, we have evaluated the effect of the simultaneous presence of bone and nacre on human osteoblasts in vitro. Nacre chips (1 mm3) were placed at ≈1 mm distance from a similarly sized bone chip on a layer of first passage human osteoblasts. None of the chemical inducers generally required to obtain bone mineralization in vitro (in particular, β-glycerophosphate) was added to the cultures. Mineralized sections of the cultures were evaluated by light and electron microscopy, contact microradiography, and Laser Raman Spectroscopy. The results demonstrated that nacre has strong osteogenic effects on human osteoblasts when placed in proximity to bone in vitro. New bone formation occurred by both appositional growth on the existing bone and by the formation of mineralized nodules within the matrix adjacent to the bone explant. Electron microscopic evaluation of these sites demonstrated findings typical of those described in the course of bone formation in vivo, and no evidence of toxicity was observed. In addition, under the conditions of culture used, nacre can also promote the formation by osteoblasts of a structure with characteristics similar to nacre (e.g., lamellar organic matrix mineralized with aragonite, as demonstrated by Laser Raman Spectroscopy). Given the unusual capacity of nacre in the presence of human osteoblasts in vitro to induce different types of mineralization, this model should provide insights into the specific interactions between matrix proteins and minerals that control the type of mineral produced in the course of biomineralization.
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