Special bioactive collagen peptides (Fortigel) were found to stimulated cell metabolism in the knee-joint cartilage and promote the regeneration of cartilage tissue, researchers at the Kiel- based Collagen Research Institute (CRI) told the congress of the Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) in Montreal.
The cell-study results compliment those of a double-blinded, placebo-controlled study from Tufts University in Boston, also presented in Montreal, which showed that the modified collagen ingredient could lead to the regeneration of knee-joint cartilage in 30 people with osteoarthritis.
Both studies were supported by Gelita, the company behind the Fortigel ingredient.
Taken together, the studies appear to support the joint health potential of the Fortigel-branded ingredient for the prevention of osteoarthritis, a condition that currently affects about 135 million people worldwide.
“The targeted manipulation of the cartilage metabolism opens up new possibilities for the treatment and prevention of osteoarthritis,” said lead researcher of the Kiel study, Dr Steffen Oesser, director of the CRI.
The modified collagen is reported to work at the cellular level by increasing levels of a compound called proteoglycan.
"In our investigations we showed that - alongside the synthesis of Type II collagen - Fortigel induces the increased production of aggrecan, a special proteoglycan which is of central importance to the cartilage function," explained Dr Oesser.
For the Harvard/Tufts study, 30 people with osteoarthritis were randomly assigned to receive either the modified collagen (Fortigel, 10 grams) or a similar dose of placebo for 24 weeks. Using an objective imaging technique the Tufts researchers, led by Dr Timothy McAlindon, found a significant regeneration of the cartilage tissue in the Fortigel group, compared to normal cartilage degeneration progression in the placebo group.
The Tufts researchers used a special imaging technique called (dGEMRIC), which uses magnetic resonance imaging. Following injection of a special dye into the patient's knee joint the researchers determines the proteoglycan density in the cartilage, and found a significant increase in proteoglycan for people in the Fortigel group.
NutraIngredients has not seen the full data for either study.