Collagens in the developing and diseased nervous system

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2009 Apr;66(7):1223-38. doi: 10.1007/s00018-008-8561-9.


Collagens are extracellular proteins characterized by a structure in triple helices. There are 28 collagen types which differ in size, structure and function. Their architectural and functional roles in connective tissues have been widely assessed. In the nervous system, collagens are rare in the vicinity of the neuronal soma, occupying mostly a "marginal" position, such as the meninges, the basement membranes and the sensory end organs. In neural development, however, where various ECM molecules are known to be determinant, recent studies indicate that collagens are no exception, participating in axonal guidance, synaptogenesis and Schwann cell differentiation. Insights on collagens function in the brain have also been derived from neural pathophysiological conditions. This review summarizes the significant advances which underscore the function and importance of collagens in the nervous system.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Collagen / chemistry
  • Collagen / physiology*
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / physiology
  • Humans
  • Nervous System / embryology*
  • Nervous System / growth & development*
  • Nervous System Diseases / metabolism*
  • Nervous System Diseases / pathology
  • Neurogenesis / physiology*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Schwann Cells / cytology
  • Schwann Cells / physiology


  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Collagen