The Science of Collagen

Collagen is a protein with unique chemistry and specific functions. In its native form, collagen has many responsibilities in the body – such as aiding cellular activity and providing an organized matrix in the skin. An understanding of collagen’s chemical, physical, and biological properties will help clinicians utilize collagen technology effectively in their wound care protocols.


Collagen is a natural biomaterial present in all animals. In its native form, collagen has biological properties which provide functional integrity to body tissues.

Properties of Collagen

Collagen Molecule Chemistry

Collagen in the Body

Molecules Self-Assemble into Fibers

Collagen in the Proper Form

Fibers form Aggregates

Aggregates Become Skin Tissue

Human & Bovine Collagen

Collagen in the Proper Form

Transmission electron microscopy illustrates that the structure of bovine collagen fibrils presented in textbooks (left) closely resembles the structure of fibrils is found in dressings containing collagen in its native form (right).

Bovine Collagen

Collagen in Proper Form

Collagen

(Histology photos taken from adult miniswine) Collagen 20 weeks at 20 x magnification When improper form, collagen is replaced by newly deposited collagen (blue) in the body. Collagen has specific chemistry, structure, and aggregate structure. In its native form, collagen has functional and biological properties which are lacking in proper collagen and other materials.

Collagen in the Proper Form

Non-Collagen

Collagen Composite 20 weeks at 20 x magnification Produces a response that is similar to new non-collagen materials. There’s a lack of newly deposited collagen (blue) and a presence of foreign body giant cells (purple ).

Collagen in Improper Form

Non-Collagen

Alginate 20 weeks at 20 x magnification Other materials can cause foreign body responses (purple).

Other Materials

References