What Does Collagen Mean?
Collagen is a group of proteins with a similar molecular structure rather than a specific substance. The number of specific collagens is at least 27, according to the New World Encyclopedia. It occurs in animals, especially connective tissue like skin and cartilage. Collagen also has practical applications in food, medicine and industry.
A polypeptide is a series of amino acids linked together in a specific way. The molecular structure of all types of collagen is composed of three polypeptide chains twisted around each other to form a triple helix. The triple helix coils tightly under tension, which gives collagen its strength and elasticity.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the strength and elasticity in collagen makes it useful in cartilage, ligaments, tendons and skin. It also gives blood vessels their structure and aids in tissue development. Cartilage is also a component of the cornea of the eye. Collagen degrades over time, which accounts for the appearance of fine wrinkles in your skin as you age.
The detection of collagen is a common requirement in histology, the study of tissue. It typically appears as bright pink in standard microscopic slides. Methyl blue and methyl violent are the dyes that microbiologists typically use to stain collagen. Specific antibodies in college and may also be stained in the process known as immunohistochemical staining.
The New World Encyclopedia states that collagen is vulnerable to a variety of diseases, particularly those of the immune system. This can cause the immune system to attack the college and fibers and inflame the surrounding tissue. Common immune disorders that affect collagen include rheumatoid arthritis and lupus erythematosus.
Gelatin is a common commercial use for collagen, according to the New World Encyclopedia. The manufacturer uses water to separate the collagen's polypeptide chains into smaller globular coils. This causes the collagen to lose its structure become the semi-solid material we know as gelatin. Collagen also has wide use in medicine, where it's an essential component in artificial skin. It's also a dermal filler in cosmetic surgery, although this use is declining due to collagen's tendency to cause allergic reactions.
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