Biomineralization of collagen-based materials for hard tissue repair

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Hydroxyapatite (HA) reinforced collagen fibrils serve as the basic building blocks of natural bone and dentin. Mineralization of collagen fibrils play an essential role in ensuring the structural and mechanical functionalities of hard tissues such as bone and dentin. Biomineraliza-tion of collagen can be divided into intrafibrillar and extrafibrillar mineralization in terms of HA distribution relative to collagen fibrils. Intrafibrillar mineralization is termed when HA minerals are incorporated within the gap zone of collagen fibrils, while extrafibrillar mineralization refers to the minerals that are formed on the surface of collagen fibrils. However, the mechanisms re-sulting in these two types of mineralization still remain debatable. In this review, the evolution of both classical and non-classical biomineralization theories is summarized. Different intrafibrillar mineralization mechanisms, including polymer induced liquid precursor (PILP), capillary action, electrostatic attraction, size exclusion, Gibbs-Donnan equilibrium, and interfacial energy guided theories, are discussed. Exemplary strategies to induce biomimetic intrafibrillar mineralization using non-collagenous proteins (NCPs), polymer analogs, small molecules, and fluidic shear stress are discussed, and recent applications of mineralized collagen fibers for bone regeneration and dentin repair are included. Finally, conclusions are drawn on these proposed mechanisms, and the future trend of collagen-based materials for bone regeneration and tooth repair is speculated.