Collagen Science Update – July 2023 Edition

This edition highlights four recent studies involved in various aspects of collagen research, including osteoarthritis, athletic performance, and skin health.

Comparison between exercise therapy and non-hydrolyzed collagen (UC-II) in functionality and quality of life in women with knee osteoarthritis

Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is a progressive wear of the anatomical structure of the knee caused by biochemical and metabolic changes, leading to pain, functional limitation, and absenteeism worldwide. This randomized, blinded, controlled trial evaluated the effects of exercise and non-hydrolyzed collagen (UC-II) on functionality and quality of life in adult women clinically diagnosed with knee OA. Thirty-nine participants were divided into three groups: CG (control group); MG (medication group); and EG (exercise group). For six weeks, the MG group received oral drug treatment with 1 capsule/day of Motilex Caps® UC-II, the CG patients did not receive any intervention, and the EG group received an intervention protocol composed of 12 exercise sessions. Functionality was assessed using two tests: the 6-min walk test (6MWT) and the timed up and go test (TUG), in which the EG and MG groups reported significant improvement compared to the CG group. Quality-of-life was analyzed using the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC), reporting a significant improvement in the EG group, specifically in the stiffness domain of the test. In the pain domain, the EG group reported a significant improvement, while the MG group showed a trend towards significance compared to the CG group. As such, this study’s results reveal that exercise and UC-II may have comparative effects in improving functionality in OA women, but exercise may be superior in promoting quality of life scores. 

Access to the study: 

Reference: Santana, É. T. N., da Cunha Machado, S., Brandão Lima, V. N., DeSantana Filho, V. J., Dos Santos Maciel, L. Y., de Farias Neto, J. P., Coutinho, H. D. M., Martins, N., Monteiro da Silva Júnior, W., & Quintans Júnior, L. J. (2023). Comparison between exercise therapy and non-hydrolyzed collagen (UC-II) in functionality and quality of life in women with knee osteoarthritis: A randomized controlled clinical trial. Wiener klinische Wochenschrift, 135(11-12), 291–300. 

Effects of the hydrolyzed collagen supplement Colnatur Sport® on endurance training and performance of runners 

Running has increased in popularity as a physical activity contributing to a healthy lifestyle. This observational prospective pilot study evaluated the effects of hydrolyzed collagen supplementation on runners’ recovery and performance after intense resistance exercise and a series of physical tests. Fifty-nine amateur athletes of both sexes, trained in long-distance running, and aged 45-60 years received a collagen supplement (10 g/day) for 16 weeks. The supplement consisted of 10 g of pure hydrolyzed collagen enriched with magnesium, manganese, zinc, and vitamins B and C in powder form. The participants performed a 21-kilometer endurance test (21KmET) at baseline and after 16 weeks of supplementation. Squat Jump (SJ) and Counter Movement Jump (CMJ) tests were measured before and after each 21KmET, and biochemical analyses and bioimpedance after each 21KmET. The subjects underwent three training sessions per week and supplement intake during the 16 weeks. The results showed an improvement in physical performance with a decrease in the time used to perform the 21km but an increase in the perceptual pain processes. As such, programmed endurance training may be beneficial in improving the functionality of runners in long-distance events, and periodic intake of hydrolyzed collagen may improve performance via its muscle and joint-improving actions.

Access to the study: 

Reference: Elvira-Aranda, C., De Castellar-Sansó, R., Gomis-Gomis, M. J., Gómez-Paternina, J. E., & Pérez Turpin, J. A. (2023). Effects of the hydrolyzed collagen supplement Colnatur Sport® on endurance training and performance of runners. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 18(1), 242–258. 

Collagen supplementation in skin and orthopedic diseases: A review of the literature

Data from published literature demonstrate that collagen supplementation promotes positive skin changes, such as decreasing wrinkle formation and increasing skin elasticity, hydration, collagen content, density, and synthesis, all factors associated with aging-related skin damage. Collagen consumption has also shown potential to improve orthopedic changes such as increasing bone strength, density, and mass, improve joint stiffness/mobility and functionality, and reduce pain, which are associated with age-related bone loss and damage from strenuous physical activity. This study conducted a literature review on the available scientific evidence of the beneficial effects of collagen supplementation in skin and orthopedic diseases. PubMed and ScienceDirect were searched for articles published between 2000 to 2022. Eight studies were retrieved that used collagen supplementation (1-10 g/day) in the treatment of dermatological changes, which were carried out only in women (aged 30-60 years, n=32-85) for 8 – 12 weeks. Positive effects of collagen were shown on minimizing skin changes, specifically aging-related ones. However, no study had follow-up assessments to investigate potential nutritional and physiological damages with chronic collagen consumption. In orthopedic alterations, increasing evidence supports the use of hydrolyzed collagen in joint pain reduction. These effects depend on the concentration, experimental conditions, and characteristics of the hydrolysates tested. Seventeen studies were retrieved that analyzed functional and biochemical changes as well as body composition changes induced by the consumption of hydrolyzed collagen (0.0001-20 g/day) taken for 1-48 weeks. Results indicated a reduction in pro-inflammatory and pain-stimulating processes in athletic and nonathletic men and women aged 18 and over. Future studies could be beneficial to address gaps regarding signaling pathways and optimal dose for consumption, type of collagen, and duration of intervention. 

Access to the study: 

Reference: Campos, L. D., Santos Junior, V. A., Pimentel, J. D., Carregã, G. L. F., & Cazarin, C. B. B. (2023). Collagen supplementation in skin and orthopedic diseases: A review of the literature. Heliyon, 9(4), e14961. 

Effects of Oral Collagen for Skin Anti-Aging: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

This systemic review and meta-analysis included 26 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) involving 1721 participants aiming to assess the effects of hydrolyzed collagen (HC) supplementation on skin hydration and elasticity, which characterize skin aging. A literature search on Embase, PubMed, and Cochrane Library retrieved relevant studies published before December 2022. The duration of HC supplementation ranged from 2 to 12 weeks, with 0.372 to 12 g of marine HC (n=14), bovine HC (n=1), chicken HC (n=1), and porcine HC (n=2). Nine studies lacked the source information for HC. The included studies involved mainly or solely female participants, with only one study having an equal representation of males and females (25:25). By analyzing skin hydration and elasticity on various body parts, including the cheek, forearm, and forehead, oral HC supplements were found to confer significant effects on both parameters observed after 8 weeks or more. The effects on skin hydration varied based on the HC source and the supplementation duration. Further large-scale RCTs are warranted to confirm these results.

Access to the study: 

Reference: Pu, S.-Y., Huang, Y.-L., Pu, C.-M., Kang, Y.-N., Hoang, K. D., Chen, K.-H., & Chen, C. (2023). Effects of Oral Collagen for Skin Anti-Aging: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients, 15(9), 2080. 

Bottom Line 

Collagen is one of the main components of the extracellular matrix, the tissues’ mechanical support network, and is involved in the structural, mechanical, organizational, and tissue-building properties of the body. Its body level depletion with age requires external sources of the protein to supply or enhance its endogenous production. Accumulating research is showing the positive effects of collagen supplementation on skin and orthopedic health, making collagen a desirable ingredient in food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic products.