High-voltage electron-microscopic tomographic (3D) studies of the ultrastructural interaction between mineral and organic matrix in a variety of calcified tissues reveal different crystal structural and organizational features in association with their respective organic matrices. In brittle or weak pathologic or ectopic calcifications, including examples of osteogenesis imperfecta, calciphylaxis, calcergy, and dermatomyositis, hydroxyapatite crystals occur in various sizes and shapes and are oriented and aligned with respect to collagen in a manner which is distinct from that found in normal calcified tissues. A model of collagen-mineral interaction is proposed which may account for the observed crystal structures and organization. The results indicate that the ultimate strength, support, and other mechanical properties provided by a calcified tissue are dependent in part upon the molecular structure and arrangement of its constituent mineral crystals within their organic matrix.
Keywords: Mineralization; Mineral strength; Mineral; Collagen; Osteogenesis Imperfecta; Calcergy; Calciphylaxis; Dermatomyositis; High-voltage electron microscopy; Electronmicroscopic tomography; 3D reconstruction