Glycosaminoglycans are the main component of collagen. They are made up of subunits known as proteoglycans.
Proteoglycans are an integral part of collagen as well as all connective tissues.
Proteoglycans are the filler material between cells in the matrix of collagen, the protein component of bone, ligaments and tendons.
Glycosaminoglycans are also found in the shell of eggs, giving eggs another way they improve the look and feel of skin.
Proteoglycans are are bound to each other, to the protein of collagen and in the case of articular cartilage, they are bound to hyaluronan, the major component of synovial fluid and the extracellular coat of cartilage cells.
Glycosaminoglycan, proteoglycan and glucosamine, can be considered interchangeable terms although glucosamine is actually the essential precursor for proteoglycans, the subunit that glycosaminoglycans are made up of.
Glucosamine availability is the limiting factor in the production of proteoglycans. Glycosaminoglycan production and utilization is accelerated during fractures, injuries, wound healing and arthritis.
Glycosaminoglycans are necessary for proper joint function and as a component of collagen, are an integral part of ligaments, tendons,and heart valves.
Glycosaminoglycans are responsible for the tensile strength of collagen.
The collagen matrix is the material that stabilizes skin.
The matrix itself is made up of glycosaminoglycans.
Glycosaminoglycans promote the ability of collagen fibrers to retain water and bind moisture into the stratum corneum of the epidermis.
Collagen, as the major protein of connective tissue, can be compared to a sponge because of its ability to trap water. As collagen ages, the fibers aggregate into larger collagen bundles and become less soluble. The less soluble collagen is, the less water it retains. This condition, plus the addition of calcium deposits that occur with aging, actually squeeze water out of collagen and cause shrinking of collagen. This results is a loss of skin turgor and the formation of wrinkles.
When collagen forms, glycosaminoglycans become bound to the peptide chains of collagen. This binding promotes the ability of collagen to retain water by keeping the collagen fibers separated.
Glycosaminoglycans, when applied topically ensure the replacement of the diminishing amounts in the skin and results in skin that has more moisture and increased flexibility.
Collagen strength and elasticity is also improved by glucosamine, which owing to its negative charge, attracts and holds water molecules. The resulting stiff gel contributes to the resiliency and shock-absorbing strength of joints as well as the lubricating properties demonstrated in the eye and skin.
Glycosaminoglycans are also found in vascular smooth muscle cells. They contribute to an anti-coagulated, non-stick surface. This minimizes the adhesion of oxidized LDL-cholesterol (truly lousy cholesterol) to blood vessel walls. Normal cell function is controlled by its membrane binding sites. Glucosamine is one component of the cell membrane recognition and confirmation theory that envisions the cell membrane as the absolute regulator of the immune system, healing and growth. These binding sites are composed of proteins and aminosugars.