Type II Collagen Supports Joints and Repair

August 19, 2019 | Dr. Linda J. Dobberstein, DC, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition

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 Type II Collagen Supports Joints and Repair
In the quest to keep your joints and cartilage cells healthy, we are introducing a new tool in your nutritional team: undenatured type-II collagen called UC-II®. In recent years, research has demonstrated positive effects on cartilage health with UC-II. Cellular, animal, and human studies reveal that UC-II safely protects knee cartilage cells against synovial breakdown and immune-triggered injury during its use.

Collagen Cells under Attack in Joints

Cartilage breakdown occurs for several reasons. One identified reason shows that immune cells (killer T-cells) target collagen fibers within joint cartilage causing the collagen to breakdown.

T-cells are trained by the immune system to recognize "self" versus "foreign". If they fail to distinguish between “self” but rather see something as a "foreign" tissue, then killer T-cells attack collagen cells within the joint causing destruction. The goal is to help train T-cells to recognize “self” and collagen as a safe substance, which keep them in a dormant, non-attack mode against joint tissue.

What Is Undenatured Type-II Collagen?

UC-II® undenatured type-II collagen is derived from chicken sternum cartilage and is standardized to contain 25% undenatured type-II collagen. It is extracted using a patented low-temperature manufacturing process that keeps the collagen intact without damage. Scientists have found that using undenatured type-II collagen allows T-cells within the gut to train and recognize that this collagen is a “safe” substance. This helps protect collagen cells in the joints from faulty recognition as “foreign” that may result in an inflammatory attack. 

UC-II is also stable and hardy enough to travel through the gut, able to enter circulation reaching joints and provide cellular benefit without triggering immune system inflammation. Undenatured collagen means that collagen is in its natural three-dimensional coiled molecular structure. Extraction of the collagen with precision low temperature technology from chicken sternal cartilage allows it to maintain its natural coil without damage.

On the other hand, denatured collagen occurs when it is exposed to high temperatures in commercial processing. As a result, it loses its three-dimensional shape, becomes uncoiled and is ineffective in protecting against joint collagen breakdown. It is not the same shape as what the body recognizes as "safe".

Only a small dose of 40 mg per day of UC-II is needed to provide therapeutic support. Glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM sulfur often require 1000-2000 mg or more to reach a therapeutic level of support. The addition of UC-II® to other essential joint nutrients of chondroitin, glucosamine, and hyaluronic acid in our JointAll™ supplement provides comprehensive cartilage building materials. Several research studies confirm UC-II’s benefit for joint health, flexibility, and mobility.

Research Benefits

In a recent study, rats were subject to surgically induced joint trauma (the equivalent of a meniscal tear in the knee cartilage). Half of the rats received UC-II immediately after the surgery; the other group had the same surgical trauma without other treatment.

At the end of the eight-week study, untreated rats experienced a significant breakdown in the cartilage and ability to bear weight. Bone spurs and loss of cartilage occurred, whereas the group treated immediately after surgery for the duration of the study did not experience joint deterioration. Even though the knee cartilage had been injured, use of the UC-II improved mechanical function and protected it from deterioration during the duration of the study.

Synovial Cell and Fluid Support

Cellular studies demonstrated that UC-II and chondroitin sulfate were able to decrease interleukin-8 (IL-8) levels released by synovial cells. IL-8 is a type of immune cytokine or neutrophil chemotactic factor released by many types of cells and tissue in response to an injury or germ. When IL-8 is released, it attracts and activates neutrophils to inflamed regions. When neutrophils are excessively activated, it leads to tissue breakdown. This is another aspect of the immune system attacking “self” as described earlier. Down-regulating IL-8 helps protect synovial cells from adverse degradation.

Synovial cells make up a protective lining or membrane that lines the inner surface of joints and tendons. The membrane or lining is like an inner tube or a sack and is essential to keeping synovial fluid inside the joint capsule.

The synovial lining produces synovial fluid which is essential to keeping cartilage cells lubricated and moist. When cartilage cells lose synovial fluid, they become dehydrated which inflicts joint cartilage cell breakdown. This research demonstrated that UC-II helped protect cartilage cells against IL-8 infiltration which in turn aids protection of synovial membrane and fluid. Other nutrients used by joints to support the synovial fluid and joint lubrication include Omega-3 DHA and EPA, hyaluronic acid, and magnesium

Joint Comfort and Improved Function

A multicenter randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluated 191 participants on the safety and benefits for UC-II for knee joint comfort and cartilage benefits. After 180 days, the participant group who received 40 mg of UC-II daily experienced significant support with comfort, stiffness, and physical function in their knees compared to the placebo group and the group who receive glucosamine. No adverse effects were noted.

In a 2015 study, the Journal of the American College of Nutrition reported on the effect of undenatured type-II collagen in animals with breakdown and destruction of collagen in joints. Use of UC-II helped modulate CD4+CD25+T cells and gene expression that adversely affected cartilage cells. Improvements were noted with joint function, mobility, and comfort even with physical exertion. Animals were treated for a period of 150 days. No adverse effects were identified.

The Functional Medicine Research Center in Gig Harbor Washington conducted a study on patients with UC-II with another herbal ingredient for joint health. At the end of the 12-week evaluation, all 17 adults ages 39-69 years experienced a significant reduction in joint discomfort symptoms. At the beginning of the study, 13 of 17 participants were using pain medications to manage their joint discomfort. At the end of 12 weeks, nine participants completely eliminated their use of pain medication, and two participants were able to reduce the dosage.

UC-II® has been recently added to Wellness Resources JointAll™, our premier joint support formula. As these studies suggest, UC-II demonstrates positive effects on joint collagen and cartilage. This is a great addition to the formula which already contains customer favorites of glucosamine, chondroitin, hyaluronic acid and ginger. In a world where millions of individuals struggle with joint breakdown, it is exciting to be able to offer another tool to help you age well!

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