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Keywords:

  • biomineralization;
  • biomimetics;
  • hydroxyapatite;
  • composite materials;
  • connective tissues

Abstract

Collagen biomineralization is a complex process and the controlling factors at the molecular level are still not well understood. A particularly high level of spatial control over collagen mineralization is evident in the anchorage of teeth to the jawbone by the periodontal ligament. Here, unmineralized ligament collagen fibrils become mineralized at an extremely sharp mineralization front in the root of the tooth. A model of collagen biomineralization based on demineralized cryosections of mouse molars in the bone socket is presented. When exposed to metastable calcium and phosphate-containing solutions, mineral re-deposits selectively into the natively mineralized tissues with high fidelity, demonstrating that the extracellular matrix retains sufficient information to control the rate of mineralization at the tissue level. While solutions of simulated bodily fluid produce amorphous calcium phosphate within the tissue section, a more highly supersaturated solution stabilized with polyaspartic acid produces oriented, crystalline calcium phosphate with diffraction patterns consistent with hydroxyapatite. The model thus replicates both spatial control of mineral deposition, as well as the matrix-mineral relationships of natively mineralized collagen fibrils, and can be used to elucidate roles of specific biomolecules in the highly controlled process of collagen biomineralization. This knowledge will be critical in the design of collagen-based scaffolds for tissue engineering of hard-soft tissue interfaces.