Joints, ligaments, tendons, cartilage and even bone are made up of the protein, collagen.
Collagen is a resilient and strong protein, whose structure determines joint, tendon and bone health.
When collagen is weak, brittle or soft it causes dysfunction and susceptible to the inflammatory process, which defines arthritis.
This weakness is due to the loss of proteoglycans in collagen.
Cartilage is a strong and flexible material due to the presence of collagen.
When cartilage is situated between two bones it is known as articular cartilage.
Articular cartilage is the material that covers the heads of bones in a joint and prevents them from rubbing against each other.
It is also the site of wear and tear erosion.
The primary protein of the cartilage matrix is collagen.
Collagen fibrils are bathed in a ground substance of chondroitin sulfate, hyaluronic acid, and core proteins to form proteoglycans.
Proteoglycans contain high molecular-weight polymers of modified and sulfated sugars.
Other glycoproteins cross-link the collagen fibrils providing strength to the overall tissue.
The study of these compounds and their effect on health is known as glycomics or glycobiology.
The matrix of collagen is 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 tissues, 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.