Fluoride Action Network


The topography of freshly fractured bovine and human bone surfaces was determined by the use of atomic force microscopy (AFM). Fracture surfaces from both kinds of samples exhibited complex landscapes formed by hydroxyapatite mineral platelets with lateral dimensions ranging from ~90 nm × 60 nm to ~20 nm × 20 nm. Novel AFM techniques were used to study these fracture surfaces during various chemical treatments. Significant topographical changes were observed following exposure to aqueous solutions of ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) or highly concentrated sodium fluoride (NaF). Both treatments resulted in the apparent loss of the hydroxyapatite mineral platelets on a timescale of a few seconds. Collagen fibrils situated beneath the overlying mineral platelets were clearly exposed and could be resolved with high spatial resolution in the acquired AFM images. Time-dependent mass loss experiments revealed that the applied agents (NaF or EDTA) had very different resulting effects. Despite the fact that the two treatments exhibited nearly identical results following examination by AFM, bulk bone samples treated with EDTA exhibited a ~70% mass loss after 72 h, whereas for the NaF-treated samples, the mass loss was only of the order of ~10%. These results support those obtained from previous mechanical testing experiments, suggesting that enhanced formation of superficial fluoroapatite dramatically weakens the protein-hydroxyapatite interfaces. Additionally, we discovered that treatment with aqueous solutions of NaF resulted in the effective extraction of noncollagenous proteins from bone powder.