In the human body, collagen is the most abundant protein present in the bones , muscles, skin, and tendons.
It is the substance that holds the body together. Collagen provides strength and stability to shape a scaffold.
Endogenous collagen is normal, body- synthesized collagen. Exogenous, synthetic collagen. It originates from an outside source, including supplements.
Endogenous collagen plays a variety of important functions. A variety of health conditions contribute to degradation and depletion.
Exogenous collagen is used in medical and cosmetic uses, including body tissue repair.
Important facts about collagen
Here are some key points about collagen. More detail is in the main article.
- Collagen occurs throughout the body, but especially in the skin, bones, and connective tissues.
- Some types of collagen fibrils, gram-for-gram, are stronger than steel.
- Collagen production declines with age and exposure to factors such as smoking and UV light.
- Collagen can be used in collagen dressings, to attract new skin cells to wound sites.
- Cosmetic lotions that claim to increase collagen levels are unlikely to do so, as collagen molecules are too large to be absorbed through the skin.
What is collagen?
Collagen is a strong, insoluble, and fibrous protein which makes up one-third of the human body ‘s protein.
The molecules are bundled together in most collagens, to form long , thin fibrils.
Both serve as supporting structures, and anchoring each other’s cells. They give the skin strength and elasticity.
There are at least 16 different collagen types, but 80 to 90 per cent belong to collagen types 1, 2 , and 3. There are various structures and functions of these different forms.
The collagen is solid and flexible in the human body.
Type 1 collagen fibrils are particularly able to stretch. They are, gram-for-gram, stronger than steel.
Roles: What does collagen do?
Collagen is secreted by various cells but mostly by cells of the connective tissue.
This is contained in the matrix of the Extracellular. This is an intricate macromolecules network which determines the physical properties of body tissues. A macromolecule is a molecule which contains numerous atoms.
Collagen helps to form a fibrous network of cells called fibroblasts in the dermis, or the middle layer of skin, upon which new cells can develop. This also plays a part in the regeneration and restoration of dead skin cells.
Many collagens, like the kidneys, serve as protective coverings for fragile organs in the body.
The body creates less collagen with age. The structural integrity of the skin declines. Wrinkles form, and weakens the joint cartilage.
After menopause women undergo a dramatic reduction in the synthesis of collagen.
A pronounced decrease in collagen production is common by the age of 60.
Uses: Medical and cosmetic
Collagen is abrasive. It means it can be broken down, transformed back into the body and processed again. It can also be formed into compacted solids or gels similar to lattice.
Its broad range of functions and the fact that it arises spontaneously make it clinically flexible and appropriate for specific medical uses.
Medical-use collagen can come from humans, cows, pigs, or goats.
Collagen injections can enhance skin contours and fill out depressions.
Collagen-containing fillers may be cosmetically applied to remove lines and wrinkles from the face. It can also improve scars, as long as these do not have a sharp edge.
Such fillers are of human and cow source. Before using collagen from animals, skin tests should be performed to prevent aggravating any allergies.
Collagen may fill in volumes which are fairly superficial. For general, more substantial gaps are filled with substances such as fat, silicone, or implants.
Collagen can help heal wounds by attracting new skin cells to the site of the wound. It encourages healing and offers a platform for the development of new tissues.
Collagen dressings can help heal:
- chronic wounds that do not respond to other treatment
- wounds that expel bodily fluids such as urine or sweat
- granulating wounds, on which different tissue grows
- necrotic or rotting wounds
- partial and full-thickness wounds
- second-degree burns
- sites of skin donation and skin grafts
Collagen dressings are not approved for third-degree burns, dry eschar covered wounds or for patients who may be sensitive to cow products.
Guided tissue regeneration
Collagen-based membranes have been used to facilitate the development of various cell types in periodontal and implant therapy.
Collagen barriers in oral surgery can prevent the rapidly developing cells around the gum from spreading to a wound in a tooth. This creates a room where cells in the tooth have the ability to regenerate.
For such cases, collagen-based membranes can support healing and are resorbable, so after the main operation, this barrier does not need to be surgically removed.
Donor grafts of collagen tissue is used in peripheral nerve regeneration, in vascular prostheses, and in arterial reconstruction.
While collagen prostheses are compatible with the human body, some were found to be thrombogenic, or likely to cause blood coagulation.
Treatment of osteoarthritis
Collagen supplements or combinations can be of assistance in treating osteoarthritis.
A 2006 study showed that collagen-containing supplements helped to decrease painful symptoms and enhance joint function in osteoarthritis sufferers.
Collagen accumulated in the cartilage when the supplement was absorbed, and this helped to rebuild the extracellular matrix.
Not all studies have supported these findings, however.
Some collagen-containing products, including creams and powders, claim to revitalize the skin by increasing levels of collagen within the body.
Nevertheless, this is impossible because collagen molecules are too large to absorb through the skin.
Any benefit is possibly due to certain products’ moisturizing effects. They do not raise collagen right away.
These therapies are also not labeled as medications, so there is no need to scientifically support any arguments about their efficacy. When using such items, caution is advised.
Preventing collagen loss
Laser therapy can help to treat stretch marks, as it can stimulate collagen, elastin and melanin growth.
A balanced diet can help collagen grow in the body.
Nutrients which could help the production of collagen include:
- Proline: In egg whites, meat, cheese, soy, and cabbage.
- Anthocyanidins: In blackberries, blueberries, cherries, and raspberries.
- Vitamin C: In oranges, strawberries, peppers, and broccoli.
- Copper: In shellfish, nuts, red meat, and some drinking water.
- Vitamin A: Occurring in animal-derived foods and in plant foods as beta-carotene.
What damages collagen?
The collagen levels within the body can be reduced by other factors. Eviting them will keep the skin safe for longer.
High sugar consumption: A high-sugar diet increases the glycation rate, a mechanism in which blood sugars bind protein to form new molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs).
AGEs damage proteins nearby, which can make collagen dry, brittle which fragile.
Smoking: Most cigarette smoke chemicals destroy both the collagen and elastin in the skin.
Nicotine also narrows the outer layers of the skin to the blood vessels. This impairs skin health by reducing nutrient and oxygen supply to the skin.
Sunlight: Ultraviolet rays in sunlight cause collagen to break down more rapidly, weaken collagen fibers and cause the build-up of irregular elastin.
Under sunlight the UV rays destroy the collagen under the dermis, and the skin reconstructs wrongly, causing wrinkles.
Autoimmune disorders: Other autoimmune disorders involve collagen targeting by antibodies.
Genetic changes can affect the extracellular matrix. The collagen that is produced may be lower, or the collagen may be unstable and mutated.
The aging process causes collagen levels to deplete naturally over time. There’s no way of stopping that.
Avoiding cigarettes and prolonged exposure to the sun and adopting a balanced diet and exercise routine will help minimize significant ageing and preserve collagen, preserving healthy skin, bones, muscles and joints for longer.