Hydroxylapatite, also called hydroxyapatite, is a mineral. It is a naturally occurring form of calcium apatite with the formula Ca5(PO4)3(OH), but is usually written Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2 to denote that the crystal unit cell comprises two molecules. Hydroxylapatite is the hydroxyl endmember of the complex apatite group. The OH- ion can be replaced by fluoride, chloride or carbonate. It crystallizes in the hexagonal crystal system. It has a specific gravity of 3.08 and is 5 on the Mohs hardness scale. Pure hydroxylapatite powder is white. Naturally occurring apatites can however also have brown, yellow or green colorations, comparable to the discolorations of dental fluorosis.
Seventy percent of bone is made up of the inorganic mineral hydroxylapatite. Carbonated-calcium deficient hydroxylapatite is the main mineral of which dental enamel and dentin are comprised. Hydroxyapatite crystals are also found in the small calcifications (within the pineal gland and other structures) known as corpora arenacea or 'brain sand'.
Hydroxylapatite can be found in teeth and bones within the human body. Thus, it is commonly used as a filler to replace amputated bone or as a coating to promote bone ingrowth into prosthetic implants. Although many other phases exist with similar or even identical chemical makeup, the body responds much differently to them. Coral skeletons can be transformed into hydroxylapatite by high temperatures; their porous structure allows relatively rapid ingrowth at the expense of initial mechanical strength. The high temperature also burns away any organic molecules such as proteins, preventing graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and rejection.
Many modern implants, e.g. hip replacements and dental implants, are coated with hydroxyapatite. It has been suggested that this may promote osseointegration and there is strong supporting evidence for this .
Hydroxylapatite uses in chromatography
The mechanism of hydroxylapatite (HA) chromatography is complicated and has been described as "mixed-mode" ion exchange. It involves nonspecific interactions between positively charged calcium ions and negatively charged phosphate ions on the stationary phase HA resin with protein negatively charged carboxyl groups and positively charged amino groups. It may be difficult to predict the effectiveness of HA chromatography based on physical and chemical properties of the desired protein to be purified. For elution, a buffer with increasing phosphate concentration is typically used.
Microcrystalline hydroxyapatite (MH) is marketed as a "bone-building" supplement with superior absorption than calcium. It is a second-generation calcium supplement derived from bovine bone. In the 1980s, bone meal calcium supplements were found to be contaminated with heavy metals, and although the manufacturers' claim their MH is free from contaminants, people are advised to avoid it because it has not been well-tested. However, the limited tests seem to show positive results. A 1995 randomized placebo-controlled study of 40 people in Europe found that it was more effective than calcium carbonate in slowing bone loss. A 2007 randomized double-blind controlled study of an MH supplement called the Bone Builder found significant positive effects in bone mineral density (BMD).
References * Wopenka, B. and J.D. Pasteris, A mineralogical perspective on the apatite in bone. Materials Science and Engineering: C. 25(2): 131, 2005