Collagen Synthesis: Definition & Explanations

Kollagen Synthese: Definition & Erklärungen

In the context of physical health and staying young, collagen is touted as an essential source. Collagen is a protein that gives tissues elasticity, tear strength and resistance to pressure. Collagen, along with hyaluronic acid, is also an anti-aging agent. It gives the skin moisture and a wrinkle-free, soft and smooth appearance.

If a collagen deficiency develops, there are possible consequences that you should under no circumstances underestimate.

In our article on collagen synthesis you will receive all the important information about the process of collagen synthesis. We explain what is meant by collagen synthesis. In addition, you will also learn where the synthesis takes place, which building blocks are essential for the construction of collagen and what effect collagen has in the human body.

the essentials in brief

  • Collagen is the main fiber component of skin, bones, tendons, cartilage, blood vessels and teeth. The synthesis of collagen takes place intracellularly and extracellularly. The process begins with intracellular synthesizing and ends with extracellular.
  • Collagen has many beneficial properties for our body. It supports anti-aging, muscle regeneration and joint, bone and connective tissue problems.
  • Collagen is found in many foods. These primarily include animal products such as bone broth, gelatin, pork and chicken skin and many more. Foods rich in vitamin C, E and zinc particularly stimulate collagen formation.

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Collagen synthesis: The term collagen synthesis explained in detail

You may have already come across the term “collagen synthesis”. But what does it mean? So that you are fully informed, we have addressed the most important questions about collagen synthesis in the following sections. So you know what is important and you are an expert when it comes to the collagen process.

What is collagen synthesis?

Collagen is a heterogeneous group of proteins that accounts for almost a quarter of the total amount of protein in the human organism. Collagen is the main fiber component of skin, bones, tendons, cartilage, blood vessels and teeth.

young skin

Collagen is essential for young looking skin and is a good anti-aging agent. (Image source: Alexandr Ivanon / pexels)

Proteins are assembled from amino acids. The protein collagen consists mainly of glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. The proportion of each amino acid in collagen is broken down as follows:

  • Glycine: 33%
  • Proline: 12%
  • Hydroxyproline: 10%.

The synthesis of collagen takes place intracellularly and extracellularly. The process begins with intracellular synthesizing and ends with extracellular. Collagen is mainly produced in fibroblasts, chondroblasts, osteoblasts and odontoblasts, however collagen is also synthesized in many other cell types. (1)

More information about the exact process of the synthesis can be found in the following sections.

How does collagen synthesis work?

In all animal beings, collagen holds cells together and connects them into tissues and organs. Collagen alone, for example, is not yet connective tissue, but has to be linked to other cells and fibrillar elements.

Collagen, like all other proteins, is formed in the somal apparatus of the cell as a peptide thread, ie as a chain of amino acids strung together. (2)

Collagen is formed by connective tissue cells, also called fibroblasts. These fibroblasts string together more than 1,000 amino acids to form so-called alpha chains. Those are the polypeptides. The alpha chains wind in the form of a helix and are stabilized by hydrogen bonds. Because of the helical structure, every third amino acid must be glycine because it is the smallest of all amino acids.

When three such alpha chains wind around each other, this is called a tropocollagen unit. If several tropocollagen units accumulate in the extracellular space (outside the cell), thin collagen fibrils are formed. If they continue to join together, thicker collagen fibers are formed.

Collagen, along with other components, forms a scaffold around the cells outside of the cells. (3)

What is the process of collagen synthesis?

As the definition of collagen synthesis states, it occurs both intracellularly and extracellularly. The course of the synthesis begins with the intracellular synthesis taking place. After collagen is synthesized in the cell, extracellular synthesis occurs.

Intracellular Synthesis

Initially, collagen helices are synthesized in firoblasts, which are referred to as alpha1 and alpha2 procollagens, respectively. They are characterized by so-called propeptides, which are important for the later assembly of the collagen triple helices.

This is followed by the hydroxylation of prolyl residues and lysyl residues, which vitamin C needs as a cofactor. Hydroxylation is followed by glycosylation of the hydroxylysyl residues with glucose and galactose.

After the assembly of three collagen helices, the triple helix is ​​formed, which is stabilized by disulfide bridges at the N- and C-terminal ends. The N-terminal end of a protein or peptide is that part of the molecule that contains the free amino group not involved in a peptide bond. The C-terminal region of a protein or peptide is that part of the molecule that contains the free carboxyl group (-COOH) not involved in a peptide bond.

After these steps have been performed, secretion into the extracellular space follows.

Extracellular Synthesis

First, collagen synthesis takes place outside the cell. Once the extracellular space has been reached, i.e. after secretion, the propeptides are removed by peptidases. Peptidases are enzymes that break down proteins. This creates the so-called tropocollagen, which is insoluble in water.

This chemical cleavage is called deamination.

The juxtaposition of different tropocollagen units leads to the formation of microfibrils. The cross-linking of the tropocollagen units is based on a chemical cleavage of lysyl residues to aldehyde groups by lysyl oxidase.

The aldehyde groups resulting from the deamination form a compound with amino groups of other lysyl residues, in which a primary amino group enters into a covalent bond with the carbonyl group of an aldehyde or a ketone. This connection is called Schiff's base. (4)

Where does collagen work?

In the context of physical health and staying young, collagen is touted as an essential source. Collagen has many beneficial properties for the human body.

Collagen gives tissues such as skin, lungs, blood vessels, cartilage, bones, tendons and ligaments their elasticity, tear strength and pressure resistance.

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Depending on the composition of the collagen, different types of collagen are distinguished. The properties of each type determine what role collagen plays in the body. (5)

collagen types function
collagen type I important for skin, tendons, bones, dentin, fascia, vessels, internal organs
Type II collagen important for cartilage, vitreous body of the eye
collagen type III important for skin, uterus, blood vessels
Type IV collagen important for kidney glomeruli, eye lens, basal lamina of epithelial and endothelial cells
Collagen Type V important for basal lamina of smooth and striated muscle cells

Collagen also has a positive effect on the hair, in the intestines, improves cellulite and thus the complexion and promotes muscle regeneration.

Which building blocks are essential for the formation of collagen?

In order for the body to form collagen, it needs amino acids and vitamin C. You should combine amino acid-rich foods such as meat, fish, eggs and bone broth with foods rich in vitamin C. In this way, you enable your body to optimally produce collagen.

Fruit

Combine products rich in vitamin C with products rich in amino acids to boost collagen formation. Vitamin C is also considered a highly effective antioxidant. (Image source: Alex Block / unsplash)

Stress, strong sunlight, smoking and chronic diseases lead to the breakdown of collagen!

Foods rich in zinc, silicon and antioxidants - such as rosehip, sea buckthorn, pumpkin seeds or millet - also promote the formation of collagen and delay its breakdown. In addition, foods rich in vitamins E and D promote natural collagen formation.

Conclusion

Collagen is made by your body, so it needs foods with amino acids and vitamins such as C and E. Collagen synthesis occurs mainly in fibroblasts, chondroblasts, osteoblasts and odontoblasts, but collagen is also synthesized in many other cell types. The synthesis of collagen begins intracellularly and ends outside the cell.

Food, especially animal products, but also plant products, have a high collagen content. These include, for example, bone broth, gelatin, pork and chicken skin, eggs, avocados, citrus fruits and many others. These products contain important ingredients that stimulate natural collagen formation and thus collagen synthesis.

References

      DocCheck Community GmbH, represented by Dr. Frank Antwerpes (Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief, address above), 2020.
Source
      Collagen in connective tissue: from glue to molecular structure, B. Steinmann, R. Gitzelmann, University Children's Hospital Children's Hospital, Zurich.
Source
      Konrad Kaspar Knops, Jin-Woo, BaeBone Brox GmbH.
Source
      DocCheck Community GmbH, represented by Dr. Frank Antwerpes (Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief, address above), 2020.
Source
      Konrad Kaspar Knops, Jin-Woo, BaeBone Brox GmbH.
Source
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