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01.09.2013 | Original Research | Ausgabe 3/2013

Calcified Tissue International 3/2013

Citrate Occurs Widely in Healthy and Pathological Apatitic Biomineral: Mineralized Articular Cartilage, and Intimal Atherosclerotic Plaque and Apatitic Kidney Stones

Calcified Tissue International > Ausgabe 3/2013
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1007/​s00223-013-9751-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
The authors have stated that they have no conflict of interest.


There is continuing debate about whether abundant citrate plays an active role in biomineralization of bone. Using solid state NMR dipolar dephasing, we examined another normally mineralized hard tissue, mineralized articular cartilage, as well as biocalcifications arising in pathological conditions, mineralized intimal atherosclerotic vascular plaque, and apatitic uroliths (urinary stones). Residual nondephasing 13C NMR signal at 76 ppm in the spectra of mineralized cartilage and vascular plaque indicates that a quaternary carbon atom resonates at this frequency, consistent with the presence of citrate. The presence, and as yet unproven possible mechanistic involvement, of citrate in tissue mineralization extends the compositional, structural, biogenetic, and cytological similarities between these tissues and bone itself. Out of 10 apatitic kidney stones, five contained NMR-detectable citrate. Finding citrate in a high proportion of uroliths may be significant in view of the use of citrate in urolithiasis therapy and prophylaxis. Citrate may be essential for normal biomineralization (e.g., of cartilage), play a modulatory role in vascular calcification which could be a target for therapeutic intervention, and drive the formation of apatitic rather than other calcific uroliths, including more therapeutically intractable forms of calcium phosphate.

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