Collagen Type II™ Shown to Reverse Skin and Joint Aging

By James South, M.A.

Aging is the common lot of all humanity. We are born. We live. We get older. We die. Yet some people age slowly, gracefully and healthfully, while others age rapidly, with accompanying pain and debility.

Many factors contribute to our “rate of aging”: our genes, our hormone levels, our diet and exercise patterns, drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse, etc. Two extremes of aging are presented by progeriacs and the people of Yuzurihara, Japan.

Progeria is a disorder that usually appears between birth and 18 months of age. It involves extremely accelerated aging. Progeriac children are bald, heavily wrinkled, have cataracts and usually die by the age of 12 or 13.1

The residents of Yuzurihara are extremely long-lived and show little skin wrinkling, even in old age. There are 10 times more people 80 and older in Yuzurihara than any community in the United States, and they usually are free of typical age-related diseases and live active lives.1

Surprisingly, there is a specific connection between the accelerated aging of progeria and the exceptional longevity of the Yuzuriharans. Children with progeria excrete up to 17 times more hyaluronic acid (hyaluronan, or HA) in their urine than normal children.1 The residents of Yuzurihara, through their unique diet, maintain high, youthful levels of HA throughout their long and healthy lives.1


Hyaluronan (HA) is a long chain molecule that consists of alternating units of N-acetylglucosamine and glucuronic acid.2 Its molecular weight may range from 50,000 to 4 million Daltons. HA can absorb up to 3,000 times its weight in water and is an important hydrating agent for tissue.2 HA is found in virtually all tissues and fluids of the body, especially in synovial (joint) fluid, the eyes’ vitreous fluid and in skin.2 HA plays a critical role in maintaining healthy joint synovial fluid and preventing the degeneration of aging joints. HA has high daily turnover, so large amounts may be needed to maintain normal steady-state levels. HA is also a regulatory molecule influencing cell movement, phagocytosis and blood vessel formation.2 HA also serves as a free radical scavenger and antioxidant, and may be particularly important to protect the skin from the aging effects of excessive sunlight exposure.2 HA is critically involved in healthy wound healing.2 HA stimulates DNA synthesis and fibroblast cell division, essential for healthy skin and cartilage maintenance.3 By the time a person reaches age 30, his or her HA becomes disorganized from skin collagen protein, compared to the interweaving of HA and skin collagen in a nine-year-old, and is even more disconnected in the skin of 60-year-olds.4

Hyaluronan & Type II Collagen

Given the importance of HA for healthy skin and joints, its high turnover and “normal” decrease with aging, an effective, absorbable source of HA is highly desirable. Fortunately a bioavailable source of HA is now available: chicken sternum type II collagen.

BioCell Technologies has developed a patented, purified, enzymatically hydrolyzed (partially digested) type II collagen supplement, derived from the sternum (breastbone) of young chickens. This product provides at least 10 percent by weight of a low molecular weight HA, which is highly absorbable.

“Native” collagen, which has not been predigested, also provides HA, but in the form of giant molecules that are too large for absorption. BioCell’s collagen molecules have a typical molecular weight of only 1,500 to 2,500 Daltons, and thus are easy for the body to absorb.

In February 2004 Dr. William Judy, senior scientist at SIBR Research, announced the results of a double blind clinical study with Collagen Type II™. In a 36-hour peak absorption study using a single dose, Collagen Type II HA significantly increased in the blood at four hours after ingestion, and peaked at a level 7,000 percent above the placebo controls’ levels in 12 hours. In a 28-day steady state bioavailability study using a constant daily dose, after seven days the Collagen Type II HA levels became stabilized and remained so throughout the study at a level 3,543 percent higher than controls. Thus, regular use of Collagen Type II can be expected to provide a significant dose of HA to supplement the age-declining tissue levels of HA typical of most people.

Type II Collagen

The benefits of type II collagen don’t stop with HA. Type II collagen, the collagen that makes up moveable joints, also provides a high level (typically 20 percent) of chondroitin sulfate (CS). CS is one of six glycosaminoglycans (GAG) that help form the connective tissue of skin, tendons, cartilage, ligaments and bone matrix.5 CS is the most abundant GAG in the body.5 Partially depolymerized (i.e., shortened chain length) CS is an effective anti-inflammatory compound without the negative side effects of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as indomethacin and ibuprofen.6

CS also enhances the synthesis of HA and cartilage proteoglycans in osteoarthritis patients, improving the quality of their joint tissue.6 CS also inhibits enzymes such as collagenase, elastase and proteoglycanase that become overactive in joint degeneration and skin aging, destroying cartilage and connective tissue.6

Type II collagen also contains cartilage matrix glycoprotein (CMGP). CMGP enhances the antioxidant protection within joints by carrying the essential trace mineral copper to the chondrocytes. Chondrocytes are small cells interspersed within the cartilage matrix of joints. The chondrocytes produce new collagen and mucopolysaccharides to keep joints well cushioned and lubricated.

The chondrocytes also produce and secrete copper SOD (superoxide dismutase), a free radical-destroying enzyme that is critical to protect joint tissue from the free radical damage that occurs as part of the process of joint degeneration.7

Duarte notes that various components of hydrolyzed type II collagen have multiple protective benefits. Collagen II components 1) resist cartilage protein digesting enzymes; 2) reprogram destructive chondrocytes to lessen inflammation; 3) promote new cartilage and proteoglycon synthesis; 4) enhance production of HA, producing a thick, effective, lubricating synovial fluid that protects and cushions joints; 5) protect the surface of cartilage from oxidative (free radical) damage and enzymatic digestion; and 6) act as powerful anti-inflammatory/pain modulators.7

Collagen Type II also provides 60 percent collagen protein. Collagen protein is unique in containing the amino acids hydroxylysine and hydroxyproline. In a study using hydrolyzed collagen, the subjects receiving collagen had significantly higher blood levels of hydroxyproline than those receiving placebo.10 As Moskowitz notes: “The positive effect of the oral administration of [hydrolyzed collagen] on skin and organs attached to the skin has been observed for some time…. These positive effects include improvement in nail quality…; an effect on the properties of hair and nail growth…; and in veterinary studies, improvement in hair and hoof quality and growth”.10

Hydrolyzed vs. Native Collagen

At the summer 2003 meeting of the British Nutrition Society, Oesser and Seifert announced the results of their experiments on the effects of the type II collagen on chondrocytes. They studied the effects of hydrolyzed vs. native (undigested) type II collagen on the activity of mature bovine chondrocyte cells. They found that native collagen had no stimulatory effect on chondrocytes, but cells fed the hydrolyzed collagen increased their production of type II collagen 250 percent.8

At the meeting, Dr. Oesser remarked: “This is the first time a cell culture model has shown that collagen hydrolysate, known to play a role in degenerative joint disease, can lead to an increase in cartilage formation. It is very plausible that collagen hydrolysate, when taken as a supplement to our normal diet, may help activate the synthesis of collagen in cartilage. Particularly in situations in which cartilage is under massive stress [e.g., arthritis, obesity, sports injury, etc.], the intake of collagen hydrolysate could be highly significant and reduce degenerative changes.”

Collagen Type II vs. Skin Aging

Dr. Nelson Novick is a practicing M.D., and associate clinical professor of dermatology at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine, as well as a dermatology clinic chief at The Mount Sinai Medical Center. In a recent article on “Tips for at-home anti-aging skin care,” he commented on the usefulness of type II collagen for promoting youthful skin. “I recommend daily oral supplementation with Biocell Collagen [Type] II™, a unique combination of collagen II, hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate (HA’s companion that builds cartilage) to nourish the skin from the inside out where topical applications cannot reach,” he said. “This dietary supplement provides the only natural and bioavailable source of these three elements needed to maintain skin moisture and elasticity. This complex concentrated matrix of elements, formerly only available to plastic surgeons as injectable drugs, not only halts the appearance of skin aging, but also potentially reverses the aging process altogether…. This supplement is not a short-term solution, such as the use of injectable collagen; rather it is a necessary part of any regimen intended for life-long skin tissue health.” 9

Collagen Safety

In a review on the role of collagen hydrolysate in bone and joint disease, Professor Roland Moskowitz, M.D., commented on the excellent safety profile of collagen hydrolysates.10 He noted that partially hydrolyzed collagen has been used as a food since at least early medieval times. Various collagen hydrolysate products have been affirmed as GRAS (generally regarded as safe) by the FDA. He also notes that “Collagen hydrolysate is of interest as a therapeutic agent of potential utility in the treatment of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Its high level of safety makes it attractive as an agent for long-term use in these chronic disorders.” 10

Collagen Type II Dosage

Collagen Type II comes in 500 mg capsules. The standard dose is two capsules two or three times daily. The product can be taken with or without food as desired. Very large persons, or those with severe joint problems, may need to take larger doses (i.e., six to eight capsules daily) while smaller persons, or those just taking collagen as a skin/joint maintenance supplement, may only need two to four caps daily.

Regular use of Collagen Type II may also improve wound healing2,3 as well as improve quality and growth of hair and nails.9,10 Side effects with collagen hydrolysates are rare, but may include a sensation of unpleasant taste, a feeling of heaviness in the stomach, a bloated feeling or burping.10


1. Sardi, B. Restoring youth with hyaluronic acid. Total Health for Longevity, 2002, 23(6).

2. Anderson, I. The properties of hyaluronan and its role in wound healing. Prof Nurse, 2001, 17:232-35.

3. Greco, R. et al. Hyaluronic acid stimulates human fibroblast proliferation within a collagen matrix. J Cell Physiol, 1998, 177:465-73.

4. Ghersetich, I. & Lotti, T. Hyaluronic acid in cutaneous intrinsic aging. Int J Dermatol, 1994, 33:119-22.

5. Champe, P. & Harvey, R. Lippincott’s Illustrated Reviews: Biochemistry. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1994:147-55.

6. Ronca, F. et al. Anti-inflammatory activity of chondroitin sulfate. Osteoartritis & Cartilage, 1998, 6 (Suppl A):14-21.

7. Duarte, A. The Collagen Type II Cure for Arthritis and Heart Disease. 1997:39.

8. Oesser, S. & Seifert, J. Stimulation of type II collagen biosynthesis and secretion in bovine chondrocytes cultured with degraded collagen. Cell Tissue Res, 2003, 311:393-99.

9. Novick, N. Tips for at-home anti-aging skin care. Total Health for Longevity, 2003, 25:44-46.

10. Moskowitz, R. Role of collagen hydrolysate in bone and joint disease. Semin Arthritis Rheum, 2000, 30:87-99.