Gelatine, an ingredient which suffered during the BSE crisis, may be able to help treat degenerative arthritis, say researchers, who have found that gelatine stimulates collagen synthesis in cartilage cells.
Scientific studies and clinical experience from past decades have demonstrated that gelatine has a protective effect on articular cartilage but for the first time cell researchers have been able to prove in a laboratory study that the animal product boosts collagen synthesis, according to German gelatine producer DGF STOESS.
Physiologists Dr Oesser and Professor Seifert at the university of Kiel in Germany explained the physiological basis for these observations in the March 2003 issue of Cell Tissue Res (311:393-399). The enrichment of the cell culture medium with collagen hydrolysate led to a significant stimulation of the synthesis of collagen in cartilage cells, report the authors.
For the experiment, mature bovine chondrocytes were preincubated in the basal cell medium for three days. The medium was then replaced with a medium supplemented with collagen hydrolysate, provided by DGF STOESS, and the controls were replaced with a medium containing no collagen or a medium with collagen-free protein hydrolysate. Incubation then continued for eight days. The scientists measured the synthesis of collagen in the medium using immunocytochemical detection and by demonstrating the formation of isotopically labelled amino acids.
The results confirmed that the addition of collagen hydrolysate to the culture medium led to an up to 2.5 fold dose-dependent increase in the secretion of collagen, which was not demonstrated in the controls, reports the company.
For the researchers, the results reveal a possible mechanism for the complex regulation of collagen turnover in the joint. The results further suggest that collagen degradation products could stimulate collagen synthesis in a positive feedback mechanism and induce the formation of new cartilage tissue.
"It is very plausible that collagen hydrolysate, when taken as a supplement to our normal diet, may activate the synthesis of collagen in cartilage. Particularly in situations in which cartilage is under massive stress the intake of collagen hydrolysate could be highly significant medically and reduce degenerative changes," said Dr Steffen Oesser.