2. Department of Periodontics, Dental School, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Md. 21201, USA.
Background: It has been known for more than 70 years that citrate is a major component of bone; comprising 1-2% weight of bone, and a concentration that is ~5-25-fold greater than the citrate concentration of most other tissues. This relationship exists in humans and in all vertebrates; which reveals that it is an indispensible and essential structural/functional component of bone. However, its implications relating to the structure and properties of bone, to the process of bone formation and regeneration, to bone disorders, and other issues have remained largely unknown and unaddressed. Recent studies have identified citrate as a structural component of the apatite nanocrystal/collagen complex, which is essential for imparting the bone properties of stability, strength, and resistance to fracture. This raises the issues of the status of citrate, and its source in normal bone formation.
Methods: The present report investigated the association of citrate with the hydroxyapatite (mineral) component and with the collagen component of human cortical bone preparations. The bone preparations were subjected to demineralization procedures to extract the mineral component; followed by extraction of the collagen component in the residual demineralized bone. The extracts were assayed for citrate, calcium, and collagen.
Results: The results reveal, for the first time, the existence of two major pools of citrate in bone. One pool comprising ~65-80% of the total citrate is associated with the hydroxyapatite component; and another pool comprising ~20-35% of the total citrate is tightly bound to the collagen component of the apatite nanocrystal/collagen complex.
Conclusions: Citrate is an indispensible chemical and structural component of the apatite nanocrystal/collagen complex; and is required for manifestation of the biomechanical properties of bone. These results lead to a new concept of bone formation in which citrate incorporation ("citration") in concert with mineralization must be included in the process of bone formation. Along with this relationship, osteoblast citrate production has recently been identified as the likely source of citrate. It is now evident that the role of citrate in normal bone formation and its implications in bone disorders and defects, and in bone repair and regeneration, now requires renewed attention and support for much needed research.
Keywords: Citrate, calcium, collagen, bone, osteoblasts, hydroxyapatite/collagen complex