Osteoarthritis (OA) is a major cause of musculoskeletal morbidity and functional loss, and the most prevalent of the musculoskeletal conditions. At this time, there is no medical treatment effective for slowing down OA progression long term or for promoting disease reversal or prevention. The standard of care for OA management focuses primarily on partially and temporarily alleviating symptoms.
According to a review published recently in International Orthopaedics, researchers demonstrated the efficacy of collagen supplementation for improving osteoarthritis symptoms.
The review consisted of 5 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published between 2009 and 2016, encompassing 519 patients. The duration of treatment ranged from 10 to 48 weeks. Treatment with collagen supplementation demonstrated a significant reduction of the total WOMAC index, and a significant reduction in stiffness and VAS score.
The possible beneficial effects of collagen for the treatment of OA have been controversial. It is essential to use collagen peptides that have a low molecular weight, which have demonstrated efficacy for specific applications, including osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
Hydrolyzed collagen peptides, which are rich in proline and hydroxyproline, promote synthesis of hyaluronic acid from synovial cells. Upon digestion, collagen is mainly broken down into single amino acids and di-peptides. These enter the bloodstream and accumulate in joint cartilage. They stimulate the biosynthesis of cartilage extracellular matrix by increasing type II collagen and proteoglycan production.
The decrease of both total WOMAC index and VAS score shown in this meta-analysis demonstrates that collagen is effective for improving OA symptoms. Other benefits of collagen supplementation include improving skin elasticity, sarcopenia, osteoporosis, blood pressure, and insulin resistance.