Collagen and immunity connection – Deep Dive #1

02, 2021
4 min

With the introduction of IMMUPEPT™ earlier this year, we entered a new exciting segment for collagen peptides: immune health. And the response from the market has been huge. To allow you the opportunity to learn even more about the connection between supplementation with specific Bioactive Collagen Peptides (BCP®s) and immune health support, here we’re going to take a closer look at the mechanisms. So welcome to part one of our new GELITA blog series on collagen-rich tissues and immunity.

Three lines of defence

Did you know that when it comes to the immune system, the body generally has three lines of defence? The first is skin, which acts as a ‘surface barrier’. This is followed by a person’s unspecific immune response - their innate immunity - and finally, their specific, adaptive or acquired immune response. All three defensive mechanisms protect the body from foreign invaders such as pathogens and microorganisms, as well as harmful bacteria, viruses and toxins. Less known, is that collagen-rich tissues are becoming increasingly recognised for their role in supporting a properly functioning immune system. The body's three main collagen-rich tissues involved in the immune response are the skin, the whole-body extracellular matrix (ECM) and the bone marrow.

In this blog, we take a closer look at our biggest organ: the skin. The skin is the body’s most basic surface barrier, and therefore vital as a first line of defence. It works alongside the other primary barriers found in the gut, lungs, eyes, nose and mouth, as well as in the interior surface of all blood vessels, to protect the body. If this primary surface barrier is compromised in any way, pathogens can enter the body and trigger the innate immune response.

So let’s look at how collagen peptides can help keep the skin barrier intact. The epidermis comprises a wall of keratinocyte cells. The spaces between these cells are filled with lipids and so-called scaffolding proteins, which help maintain the skin barrier. If this layer is broken down, however, pathogens can reach deeper tissues and cause infection.

With IMMUPEPT™, we have developed a novel product containing skin-specific BCP®s that have been optimised to stimulate the metabolism of keratinocytes, therefore regulating biosynthesis of the epidermal matrix proteins that form a strong skin barrier. These specific collagen peptides help to keep the skin barrier healthy, so that it can withstand various external threats. Lipids found naturally in the uppermost layers of the skin (e.g. ceramides), are also essential to maintaining the surface barrier. A sub-group analysis of 19 participants from a pilot study performed in cooperation with the University of Hamburg, showed a significant increase in the lipid content of the skin barrier after supplementation with skin-specific BCPâs.

As a brand owner, you might be wondering how you can incorporate IMMUPEPT™ into your product formulations. Well, the good news is that all of our BCP®s can be used to create a wide variety of nutraceutical and functional food products, including drinks, shakes, powders and protein bars. Better still, Bioactive Collagen Peptides won’t affect the taste, smell or mouthfeel of the end product, are non-allergenic and, as they are 100 per cent natural, don’t have an E-number.

So what are you waiting for? For expert advice and support, contact us today. And be sure to look out for the next instalment of our blog, in which we’ll cover the second line of defence: the extracellular matrix.