Int. J. Dev. Biol. 39: 213 - 222 (1995)
© UPV/EHU Press

From serum to the mineral phase. The role of the odontoblast in calcium transport and mineral formation.

A Linde and T Lundgren

Department of Oral Biochemistry, Faculty of Odontology, Göteborg University, Sweden.

ABSTRACT Dentin may be considered as a calcified connective tissue and is in its composition as well as in its mode of formation closely related to bone. Dentin is formed by two simultaneous processes in which the odontoblasts are instrumental: the formation of the proteinaceous dentin matrix, and mineral crystal formation in this matrix. As part of this, the odontoblasts actively transport Ca2+ ions towards the site of mineral formation. The cells maintain a delicate intracellular Ca2+ ion balance by the concerted action of transmembraneous transport mechanisms, including Ca-ATPase, Na+/Ca2+ exchangers and calcium channels of the L-type, and possibly intracellular Ca(2+)-binding proteins. The net effect of this is a maintenance of a cytoplasmic sub-micromolar Ca2+ activity and an extracellular accumulation of Ca2+ ions at the mineralization front. In addition to the major matrix constituent, collagen, non-collagenous macromolecules, such as dentin phosphoprotein (phosphophoryn), dentin sialoprotein, and proteoglycan, are synthesized by the odontoblasts and deposited in the matrix. Such polyanionic macromolecules are presumably responsible for the extracellular induction of hydroxyapatite crystals, but may also function to inhibit mineral growth and to regulate crystal size. Accordingly, it can be concluded that dentinogenesis comprises an interplay between several factors in the tissue, cellular as well as extracellular.