The importance of being amorphous: calcium and magnesium phosphates in the human body.


Department of Chemistry "Ugo Schiff", University of Florence, via della Lastruccia 3, 50019, Sesto Fiorentino, Florence, Italy. Electronic address: [Email]


This article focuses on the relevance of amorphous calcium (and magnesium) phosphates in living organisms. Although crystalline calcium phosphate (CaP)-based materials are known to constitute the major inorganic constituents of human hard tissues, amorphous CaP-based structures, often in combination with magnesium, are frequently employed by Nature to build up components of our body and guarantee their proper functioning. After a brief description of amorphous calcium phosphate (ACP) formation mechanism and structure, this paper is focused on the stabilization strategies that can be used to enhance the lifetime of the poorly stable amorphous phase. The various locations of our body in which ACP (pure or in combination with Mg2+) can be found (i.e. bone, enamel, small intestine, calciprotein particles and casein micelles) are highlighted, showing how the amorphous nature of ACP is often of paramount importance for the achievement of a specific physiological function. The last section is devoted to ACP-based biomaterials, focusing on how these materials differ from their crystalline counterparts in terms of biological response.


Amorphous calcium phosphate,Biomaterials,Human body,Nanostructure,Stabilization,