The plastic nature of the human bone–periodontal ligament–tooth fibrous joint
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This study investigates bony protrusions within a narrowed periodontal ligament space (PDL-space) of a human bone-PDL-tooth fibrous joint by mapping structural, biochemical, and mechanical heterogeneity. Higher resolution structural characterization was achieved via complementary atomic force microscopy (AFM), nano-transmission X-ray microscopy (nano-TXM), and microtomography (MicroXCT™). Structural heterogeneity was correlated to biochemical and elemental composition, illustrated via histochemistry and microprobe X-ray fluorescence analysis (μ-XRF), and mechanical heterogeneity evaluated by AFM-based nanoindentation. Results demonstrated that the narrowed PDL-space was due to invasion of bundle bone (BB) into PDL-space. Protruded BB had a wider range with higher elastic modulus values (2-8GPa) compared to lamellar bone (0.8-6GPa), and increased quantities of Ca, P and Zn as revealed by μ-XRF. Interestingly, the hygroscopic 10-30μm interface between protruded BB and lamellar bone exhibited higher X-ray attenuation similar to cement lines and lamellae within bone. Localization of the small leucine rich proteoglycan biglycan (BGN) responsible for mineralization was observed at the PDL-bone interface and around the osteocyte lacunae. Based on these results, it can be argued that the LB-BB interface was the original site of PDL attachment, and that the genesis of protruded BB identified as protrusions occurred as a result of shift in strain. We emphasize the importance of bony protrusions within the context of organ function and that additional study is warranted.
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