3D relationship between hierarchical canal network and gradient mineralization of shark tooth osteodentin

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Author(s)

  • Zhuanfei Liu
  • Yunya Niu
  • Zeyao Fu
  • Zhengyi Fu
  • Yongming Hu
  • Zhaoyong Zou

Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-197
Journal / PublicationActa Biomaterialia
Volume168
Online published13 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2023

Abstract

Osteodentin is a dominant mineralized collagenous tissue in the teeth of many fishes, with structural and histological characteristics resembling those of bone. Osteodentin, like bone, comprises osteons as basic structural building blocks, however, it lacks the osteocytes and the lacuno-canalicular network (LCN), which are known to play critical roles in controlling the mineralization of the collagenous matrix in bone. Although numerous vascular canals exist in osteodentin, their role in tooth maturation and the matrix mineralization process remain poorly understood. Here, high resolution micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) and focused ion beam-scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) were used to obtain 3D structural information of osteodentin in shark teeth at multiple scales. We observed a complex 3D network of primary canals with a diameter ranging from ∼10 µm to ∼120 µm, where the canals are surrounded by osteon-like concentric layers of lamellae, with ‘interosteonal’ tissue intervening between neighboring osteons. In addition, numerous hierarchically branched secondary canals extended radially from the primary canals into the interosteonal tissue, decreasing in diameter from ∼10 µm to hundreds of nanometers. Interestingly, the mineralization degree increases from the periphery of primary canals into the interosteonal tissue, suggesting that mineralization begins in the interosteonal tissue. Correspondingly, the hardness and elastic modulus of the interosteonal tissue are higher than those of the osteonal tissue. These results demonstrate that the 3D hierarchical canal network is positioned to play a critical role in controlling the gradient mineralization of osteodentin, also providing valuable insight into the formation of mineralized collagenous tissue without osteocytes and LCN.

Statement of significance 

Bone is a composite material with versatile mechanical properties. Osteocytes and their lacuno-canalicular network (LCN) are known to play critical roles during formation of human bone. However, the bone and osteodentin of many fishes, although lacking osteocytes and LCN, exhibit similar osteon-like structure and mechanical functions. Here, using various high resolution 3D characterization techniques, we reveal that the 3D network of primary canals and numerous hierarchically branched secondary canals correlate with the mineralization gradient and micromechanical properties of osteonal and interosteonal tissues of shark tooth osteodentin. This work significantly improves our understanding of the construction of bone-like mineralized tissue without osteocytes and LCN, and provides inspirations for the fabrication of functional materials with hierarchical structure.

© 2023 Acta Materialia Inc.  Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Research Area(s)

  • Bone, Canal structure, Dentin, FIB-SEM, Micro-CT

Citation Format(s)

3D relationship between hierarchical canal network and gradient mineralization of shark tooth osteodentin. / Liu, Zhuanfei; Niu, Yunya; Fu, Zeyao et al.
In: Acta Biomaterialia, Vol. 168, 15.09.2023, p. 185-197.

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review