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The role of collagen in the skeleton

Osteoarticular diseases represent half of all the chronic diseases in people over 60.

Collagen in bone

Their increasing incidence with an aging population constitutes a major issue.
Taking this into account, the United Nations has determined that the next decade will be dedicated to bones and joints.

Without a skeleton, our body would be a mass of soft flesh. The skeleton is made up of more than 200 bones, and carries out four main functions. First, the skeleton supports the body's weight and works as an anchor point for all the muscles and soft organs. Second, the skeleton plays an important role as a protector. The skull protects the brain, the rib cage protects the heart and the lungs, and the vertebrae protect the spinal cord. Third, the skeleton has a storage function. It contains 99% of the mineral reserves in the body. Finally, it participates in the immune functions, since white and red blood cells are produced in the bone marrow.

During the process of aging, the decrease of collagen significantly affects our bone structure, since our body loses the collagen that is used to sequester minerals in the bones. This critical situation modifies the bones' rigidity, flexibility and density, making them more fragile.

One of the most common diseases related to bone aging is osteoporosis. It is characterized by a loss of bone resistance, which favors fractures. One of the main markers of bone density is defined by the increase of the blood and urinary levels of C telopeptides of Type I collagen. Type I collagen in bones is similar to steel rods in reinforced concrete. Type I collagen offers the structure onto which bone minerals can bind. Thus, a lack of this type of collagen weakens bones. When bones are more porous, they are more susceptible to fracture during a simple fall that would normally have no consequences. Like arthritis, osteoporosis appears progressively with age.