Features | Partner Sites | Information | LinkXpress
Sign In
Agfa Healthcare

Shock-Absorbing “Goo” Discovered in Bone

By Medimaging International staff writers
Posted on 09 Apr 2014
Image: The newly proposed layered structure of bone minerals (Photo courtesy of Cambridge University).
Image: The newly proposed layered structure of bone minerals (Photo courtesy of Cambridge University).
A combination of imaging techniques and computational modeling reveals that much of the mineral from which bone is made consists of “goo” trapped between tiny crystals that provides a flexibility that stops bones from shattering.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom) and University College London (UCL; United Kingdom) uses a combination of multinuclear solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), spectroscopy, powder X-ray diffraction, and first principles electronic structure calculations to propose a quantitative structure for double salt octacalcium phosphate citrate (OCP-citrate) bridging between layers of calcium phosphate mineral (such as in bone), in which citrate anions reside in a hydrated layer, bridging between the apatitic layers.

According to the model, citrate—a by-product of natural cell metabolism—is mixed with water to create a viscous fluid that is trapped between the nanoscale calcium phosphate crystals that form bones. This fluid allows enough movement (slippage), between the crystals so that bones remain flexible, and do not shatter under pressure. Bone tissue also has a protein mesh with holes where the calcium is deposited. In healthy tissue, the holes are very small, so that when the calcium is deposited, the citrate cannot escape and is trapped between crystals, creating the flexible layers of fluid and bone plates.

But as people age or suffer repeated bone trauma, the protein mesh becomes irreparably damaged, resulting in progressively larger holes that allow the citrate fluid to leak out. The calcium phosphate crystals can then fuse together into bigger and bigger clumps unimpeded by citrate, turning the bone inflexible, increasingly brittle, and more likely to shatter. According to the researchers the model can explain a number of known structural features of bone mineral, such the thin, plate-like morphology of mature bone mineral crystals and the presence of strongly bound water molecules, as well explain the root cause of osteoporosis. The study was published early online on March 21, 2014, in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).

“What we've shown is that a large part of bone mineral – possibly as much as half of it in fact – is made up of this goo, where citrate is binding like a gel between mineral crystals,” said lead author Melinda Duer, PhD, of the Cambridge department of chemistry and advanced imaging center. “The crystals stay in flat, plate-like shapes that have the facility to slide with respect to each other. Without citrate, all crystals in bone mineral would collapse together and become one big crystal and shatter.”

Related Links:

University of Cambridge
University College London



view channel
Image: Whole body images of a mouse before and after nanoparticles injections. Signal loss in the liver and the spleen due to the accumulation of iron from the nanoparticles is indicated by the red arrows. (Photo courtesy of Imperial College London).

Self-Assembling Nanoparticles Could Improve Cancer Diagnosis

Innovative nanoparticles boost the effectiveness of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning by specifically seeking out receptors that are found in cancerous cells. Developed by researchers at Imperial... Read more


view channel
Image: Probability map of the brain regions activated in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) by a silent sentence production task in a group of 144 right-handed individuals. The color scale indicates the percentage of subjects with significant activation in this area during the task (green: 50%, blue: 65%, red: 80% or more). Note the high asymmetry of the map in favor of the left hemisphere) [Gauche = Left, Droite = Right] (Photo courtresy of Groupe d\'Imagerie Neurofonctionnelle, CNRS/CEA/Université de Bordeaux, France).

fMRI and Database Show a Dominant Side of the Brain for Handedness and Language

Utilizing a large psychometric and brain imaging database, researchers have demonstrated that the location of language areas in the brain is independent of left- or right-handedness, except for a very... Read more


view channel
Image: The Vivid T8 cardiovascular ultrasound system offers quantitative features such as stress echo and transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) capabilities (Photo courtesy of GE Healthcare).

Mobile, Cardiovascular Ultrasound Features Stress Echo and Transesophageal Echocardiography Capabilities

A 58.5-kg mobile cardiovascular ultrasound system features innovative quantitative features such as stress echo, and transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) capabilities, designed for healthcare providers... Read more

General/Advanced Imaging

view channel
Image: Participant fitted with fNIRS headgear (Photo courtesy of University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences).

Portable Optical Imaging Tool Designed for Concussion Evaluation

Researchers have demonstrated that a portable, low-cost optical imaging application is useful in evaluation of concussions. Two separate research projects, published recently, represent important steps... Read more

Imaging IT

view channel

Enterprise Imaging and Content Management Technology Collaboration Designed to Optimize the Electronic Health Record

A joint solution developed for the US market provides multi-media, electronic content management for electronic health records (EHRs). The system provides real-time access to a patient’s full medical history across the hospital enterprise, enhancing decision-making and healthcare while lowering costs. The integration... Read more

Industry News

view channel

Hosting and Distribution Collaboration Established to Provide Radiation Dose Monitoring

PHS Technologies Group, LLC (Scottsdale, AZ, USA), a unit of PACSHealth, LLC, and a developer of software that monitors patient exposure to ionizing radiation, reported that Dell Healthcare and Life Sciences (Round Rock, TX, USA) will become a marketing, distribution, and hosting partner for its DoseMonitor OnLine software.... Read more
Copyright © 2000-2014 Globetech Media. All rights reserved.