Reversible Structural Changes of Octacalcium Phosphate and Labile Acid Phosphate

O. Suzuki, H. Yagishita, T. Amano, T. Aoba

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62 Citations (Scopus)


Acid phosphate is one of the major impurities incorporated into bioapatites, and its quantity and environment in forming mineral have been used as diagnostic probes to pursue acidic precursor(s). Currently, little is known about the structural feature of non-stoichiometric octacalcium phosphate (OCP), which has been advocated to be, most plausibly, mineral salt initially formed during amelogenesis. In the present report, we attempt to define the state of acid phosphate in OCP crystals which were Ca-deficient and contained 40% total phosphate as acid phosphate. We assessed fractions of acid phosphate in discrete environments by extracting the crystals in either deionized water, 10 mmol/L NaOH solution (initial pH 11), or 150 mmol/L Tris buffer at pH 7.4. Solid samples before and after the treatments were examined by chemical analyses and x-ray diffraction. The results indicated that successive extractions with use of the alkaline solution brought about a reversible change (not hydrolysis) in the interior structure of OCP, which accompanied a marked decrease in acid phosphate. A substantial part of the lost acid phosphate was restored during subsequent treatments at neutral pH, and, intriguingly, this restoration accompanied a re-ordering of OCP structure. The data suggested that the acid phosphate in OCP is separated into three pools: (a) a stable pool corresponding to roughly 50 to 60% of the total acid phosphate, (b) a reversibly exchangeable pool corresponding to 25 to 30% of the acid phosphate which may exist either in the water layer or on crystal surfaces, and (c) an unstable (or irreversibly lost) pool corresponding to 15 to 20% of the acid phosphate, a part of which might be explained by the presence of excess hydrogen in OCP. The present work supports the concept that protons and, to a lesser magnitude, phosphate species can diffuse into and out of the OCP lattice prior to initiation of its hydrolytic transition into apatite.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1764-1769
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Dental Research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1995 Nov


  • acid phosphate
  • biomineralization
  • crystal structure
  • octacalcium phosphate


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