In Silico Investigations of Calcium Phosphate Mineralization in Extracellular Vesicles

J Phys Chem B. 2018 Apr 12;122(14):3782-3789. doi: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.8b00169. Epub 2018 Mar 22.


Calcification in bone, cartilage, and cardiovascular tissues involves the release of specialized extracellular vesicles (EVs) that promote mineral nucleation. The small size of the EVs, however, makes molecular level studies difficult, and consequently uncertainty exists on the role and function of these structures in directing mineralization. The lack of mechanistic understanding associated with the initiators of ectopic mineral deposition has severely hindered the development of potential therapeutic options. Here, we used multiscale molecular dynamics simulations to investigate the calcification within the EVs. Results show that Ca2+-HPO42- and phosphatidylserine complexes facilitate the early nucleation. Use of coarse-grained simulations allows investigations of Ca2+-PO43- nucleation and crystallization in the EVs. Systematic variation in the ion-to-water ratio shows that the crystallization and growth strongly depend on the enrichment of the ions and dehydration inside the EVs. Our investigations provide insights into the role of EVs on calcium phosphate mineral nucleation and growth in both physiological and pathological mineralization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Calcium Phosphates / chemistry*
  • Calcium Phosphates / metabolism
  • Computer Simulation
  • Extracellular Vesicles / chemistry*
  • Extracellular Vesicles / metabolism
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation*


  • Calcium Phosphates
  • calcium phosphate