Calcium orthophosphates in nature, biology and medicine
Recent developments in biomineralization have already demonstrated that nanosized particles play an important role in the formation of hard tissues of animals. Namely, the basic inorganic building blocks of bones and teeth of mammals are nanodimensional and nanocrystalline calcium orthophosphates (in the form of apatites) of a biological origin. In mammals, tens to hundreds nanocrystals of a biological apatite were found to be combined into self-assembled structures under the control of various bioorganic matrixes. In addition, the structures of both dental enamel and bones could be mimicked by an oriented aggregation of nanosized calcium orthophosphates, determined by the biomolecules. The application and prospective use of nanodimensional and nanocrystalline calcium orthophosphates for a clinical repair of damaged bones and teeth are also known. For example, a greater viability and a better proliferation of various types of cells were detected on smaller crystals of calcium orthophosphates. Thus, the nanodimensional and nanocrystalline forms of calcium orthophosphates have a great potential to revolutionize the field of hard tissue engineering starting from bone repair and augmentation to the controlled drug delivery devices. This paper reviews current state of knowledge and recent developments of this subject starting from the synthesis and characterization to biomedical and clinical applications. More to the point, this review provides possible directions of future research and development.