Collagen Supplementation for Joint Health: The Link between Composition and Scientific Knowledge.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint disease, generating pain, disability, and socioeconomic costs worldwide. Currently there are no approved disease-modifying drugs for OA, and safety concerns have been identified with the chronic use of symptomatic drugs. In this context, nutritional supplements and nutraceuticals have emerged as potential alternatives. Among them, collagen is being a focus of particular interest, but under the same term different types of collagens coexist with different structures, compositions, and origins, leading to different properties and potential effects. The aim of this narrative review is to generally describe the main types of collagens currently available in marketplace, focusing on those related to joint health, describing their mechanism of action, preclinical, and clinical evidence. Native and hydrolyzed collagen are the most studied collagen types for joint health. Native collagen has a specific immune-mediated mechanism that requires the recognition of its epitopes to inhibit inflammation and tissue catabolism at articular level. Hydrolyzed collagen may contain biologically active peptides that are able to reach joint tissues and exert chondroprotective effects. Although there are preclinical and clinical studies showing the safety and efficacy of food ingredients containing both types of collagens, available research suggests a clear link between collagen chemical structure and mechanism of action.