Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy of developing bone mineral: from amorphous precursor to mature crystal†
Bone mineral development has been described to proceed through an amorphous precursor prior to apatite crystallization. However, further analytical approaches are necessary to identify specific markers of amorphous mineral components in bone. Here, we establish an original Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy approach to allow the specific identification of the amorphous and/or crystalline nature of bone mineral. Using a series of standards, our results demonstrate that obtaining the second derivative of the FTIR spectra could reveal a peak specifically corresponding to amorphous calcium phosphate (ACP) at ∼992 cm−1. The intensity of this peak was strongly correlated to ACP content in standard mixtures. The analysis of a variety of bones showed that a clear ACP peak could be identified as a specific marker of the existence of an amorphous mineral component in developing bones. In contrast, the ACP peak was not detected in the mature bones. Moreover, subjecting developing bones to ex vivo crystallization conditions led to a clear reduction of the ACP peak, further substantiating the conversion of amorphous mineral precursor into mature apatite crystals. Analysis of mineralization in osteogenic cell cultures corroborated our observations, showing the presence of ACP as a major transient component in early mineralization, but not in the mature matrix. Additionally, FTIR imaging revealed that ACP was present in areas of matrix development, distributed around the edges of mineralizing nodules. Using an original analytical approach, this work provides strong evidence to support that bone mineral development is initiated by an amorphous precursor prior to apatite crystallization.