Characterisation of mineralisation of bone and cartilage: X-ray diffraction and Ca and SrK alpha X-ray fluorescence microscopy

D. A. Bradley*, P. Muthuvelu, R. E. Ellis, E. M. Green, D. AttenburrOW, R. Barrett, K. Arkill, D. B. Colridge, C. P. Winlove

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Bone is a dynamic structure, constantly remodelling in response to changing mechanical and environmental factors. This is particularly evident in the mineral component encrusting the collagenous framework. The mineral is principally in the form of calcium apatite, but calcium can exchange with strontium, both during the cellular processes of mineralisation and resorption and by passive exchange with the deposited crystals. Mineralisation is generally characterized by densitometry, but because of the differences in absorption cross sections of calcium and strontium it can be misleading in studies of composition. In this work we have used X-ray diffraction to identify calcium and strontium apatite and X-ray fluorescence to quantify strontium and calcium distribution. With the beam characteristics available from synchrotron radiation, this has enabled us to obtain microscopic resolution on thin sections of bone and cartilage from the equine metacarpophalangeal joint. Two issues have been investigated; the first is the distribution of mineral in the bone-cartilage interface and within individual trabeculae. In trabecular bone the ratio of strontium to calcium concentration was typically 0.0035 +/- 0.0020, and higher by a factor of similar to 3 at the periphery than in the centre of a trabeculum (possibly reflecting the more rapid turnover of mineral in the surface layer). In the dense subchondral bone the ratio was similar, approximately doubling in the calcified cartilage. The second objective was to explore the changes in mineralisation associated with development of osteoarthrosis. We analysed lesions showing cartilage thinning and changes in the trabecular organization and density of the underlying bone. At the centre of the lesion the ratio of strontium to calcium was much lower than that in normal tissue, although the calcified cartilage still showed a higher ratio than the underlying bone. In the superficially normal tissue around the lesion the calcified cartilage returned to a normal ratio much more rapidly than the underlying bone. These data demonstrate the complex relationship between changes in cartilage and the underlying bone. (C) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalNuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2007
Event6th Topic Meeting on Industrial Radiation and Radioisotope Measurement Applications - Hamilton, Canada
Duration: 20 Jun 200524 Jun 2005


  • synchrotron
  • XRF
  • bone
  • cartilage
  • calcium
  • strontium


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