Crystals of minerals and organic materials are deposited physiologically by the large majority of organisms. The deposition of carbonated apatite crystals in bone and teeth is probably the best known and the most relevant biological crystallization process in humans, but is by far not the most significant in biomineralization. Suffice it to mention the guanine and uric acid crystals responsible for the silvery shine in fish scales and scarab cuticle, which are undoubtedly relevant to gout.
Physiological crystallization processes, in contrast to pathological crystallizations, have the advantage of being reproducible and highly controlled. They may be potentially followed in vivo during their onset and evolution. In contrast, the hallmark of pathological crystallization phenomena is that they are not controlled and not reproducible, and they are thus extremely difficult to follow in vivo.
This lecture will concern the knowledge that has been acquired from the study of biological crystal formation and growth in organisms and its possible relations to pathological crystallizations, in particular in gout.
Steve Weiner and Lia Addadi, Crystallization Pathways in Biomineralization. Annu. Rev. Mater. Res. 41:21-40 (2011).
Disclosure of Interest None declared